GPs battling to get crucial equipment to struggling Covid patients

Source: Q and A

Securing basic treatment equipment is continuing to hamper the efforts of South Auckland GPs to care for Covid patients in their homes.

Operating out of the Papakura Marae, Dr Jason Tuhoe said he doesn’t think the health system was prepared to handle the new strategy of Covid-positive patients self-isolating, particularly in areas that have high levels of deprivation.

"There’re just not those supports that are there to be able to manage safely at home. We’ve been concerned for a long time" Tuhoe said.

Tuhoe said getting oximeters to whānau is proving difficult, and told Q+A with Jack Tame that "if you can help with that, we’d be pretty stoked".

An oximeter is a device that clips onto a patient’s finger, to test how much oxygen is circulating in their blood. Patients are told that if the reading drops below a certain level, they need to contact the hospital.

Tuhoe said some oximeters are being provided through their primary health organisation, and various other sources, including donations from other Māori providers.

Tuhoe’s colleague, Dr Matire Harwood, said: "they’re meant to be sent out by public health, but many people say they’re waiting five, seven days to receive them".

In response to Q+A’s inquiry, a Northern Region Health Coordination Centre (NRHCC) spokesperson said oximeters were being provided within 24 hours in the vast majority of cases.

"However, we acknowledge there have been a small number of delays in these packs being delivered including in instances where the address is incorrect or the person is unable to be contacted," the spokesperson said.

"We are reviewing our processes and procedures to identify how they can be improved to ensure pulse oximeters are always received with 24 hours of referral to home isolation. Anyone who is experiencing delays should call Healthline or their GP."