Survey reveals concerns about contracting COVID-19 and not enough PPE

27 April 2020 | Avant Media

On Monday 30 March 2020, Avant sent out a survey to its members on the state of preparedness and strategies for COVID-19. The survey closed at midnight on Tuesday 31 March.

We currently represent over 50% of Australia’s doctors and over 4,500 members provided feedback in just 36 hours.

‘We were slightly taken aback by the numbers of doctors who responded to the survey,’ said Dr Penny Browne, Avant’s Chief Medical Officer. ‘We knew that our members were concerned about these issues but weren’t sure whether, when they are under such pressure, they would take the time to respond.’

Of the doctors who see patients and who responded to the survey:

  • 88% were very or somewhat concerned about catching COVID-19 from a patient, with acute care specialists being the most concerned.
  • 91% were very or somewhat concerned that their families and household contacts will contract COVID-19 from them if they contract it from their clinical work.
  • 64% did not think that healthcare workers would have access to enough personal protective equipment (PPE) at their workplaces over the next month, with GPs the most concerned. Doctors from all states and territories shared similarly high concerns, despite there being different rates of infection across the country.

Of the doctors who responded, 81% supported a Stage 3 lockdown now to flatten the curve of COVID-19 infections.

‘The responses confirmed what we had been hearing anecdotally from our members’ Dr Browne said. ‘We are so grateful to them for taking the time to provide us with this invaluable quantitative data.’

We also asked member what else they thought could be done to help doctors at this time. Almost 3,000 doctors responded to this question. Some of the key priorities called out were:

  • Increasing access to adequate supplies of PPE.
  • Obtaining accurate information on the availability of PPE.
  • Educating doctors on how to use PPE as effectively as possible.
  • Focusing on doctor workplace health and safety (including mental health support, protecting vulnerable doctors and ensuring rest).
  • Providing clear and unambiguous clinical direction on the detection and management of COVID-19 patients.

This data has been invaluable in helping us clarify what doctors believe that Australian Governments need to focus on,’ Dr Browne explained. 

The data from the survey is important empirical evidence that provides a clear picture of the profession’s perspectives.

We propose to share these insights with other medical bodies and in our discussions with Australian governments.

Key messages we will communicate are:

  • Doctors are concerned they or their families will become infected with COVID-19, and governments could take stronger actions to mitigate these risks.
  • Securing and appropriately distributing additional PPE for all healthcare workers must be a top priority.
  • Doctors overwhelmingly support strengthening the social distancing measures to contain the virus.
  • Clearer clinical direction for doctors is needed.

A full list of frequently asked questions and our advice on COVID-19, plus a list of useful resources, is available on our website.

Remember we are a member owned organisation and here to support you. If you require advice or have any concerns or questions, you can call us on 1800 128 268, even 24/7 in emergencies.

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