Frontline Health Worker
In early 2020, Nurse Natasha Wong found herself out of her specialty of orthopaedics and assigned to the COVID-19 Ward at Royal North Shore Hospital.
I was aware that the CEC and our teams here were reviewing the quality of the PPE which was really important to us.
The Review Team
Personal Protective Equipment is a term describing wearable protection such as masks, gowns and gloves.
Rebecca Robertson is the Product Critical Supply Manager at HealthShare NSW. In ordinary circumstances, medical devices such as masks and gowns that need to be supplied in very large quantities would be purchased or procured on contract after a process of around 6-12 months. With the sudden rise in demand and potential for even more demand the processes of supply were under review. In the early days Rebecca recalls sending PPE sample products to Kathy Dempsey, CEC’s Senior Manager Healthcare Acquired Infections (HAI) at her own home.
The risks were quickly recognised. HealthShare NSW set up a centralised review team and process and brought CEC experts in for a formal review day at their Yennora facility to do a ‘table top’ analysis.
A lot of companies had been stood up quickly as suppliers which were very new to working with Health and working with requirements which are very specific.
A critical part of the review process was contribution from teams in Local Health Districts, the ultimate destination of the reviewed products.
Up to 30 June 2020, the PPE product review team conducted 226 assessments with only a fraction of those products making it through rigorous testing.
Cate Malone is the Senior Manager for Governance and Assurance at the CEC and has worked in NSW Health for over 38 years. Cate has a nursing and midwifery background and holds a Master of Education. Her career has focused on implementing quality and safety framework within NSW and supporting staff with a systems and continuous quality and safety improvement focus.
Panic buying that we saw happening in the supermarkets for example well we didn’t want to see that happening in our health system.
We would try to respond to any of the questions that the product managers raised and it was really good because they would also raise issues that would make us think ok we’ll go back and recheck that and we’ll make sure for them and give that reassurance so they could go and give that assurance back to the staff.