29 March 2020

NSW Health and the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) have partnered to provide important training for hospital physiotherapists working to combat COVID-19.

As NSW Health ramps up its response to the current health crisis, physiotherapists will be deployed to provide specialised care to patients with COVID-19.

More than 350 NSW Health physiotherapists with previous experience in intensive care registered with the Health Education and Training Institute (HETI) and undertook virtual training by APA this weekend.

NSW Chief Allied Health Officer, Andrew Davison said upskilling physiotherapists will help more efficiently wean patients off much-needed ventilators and improve patient positioning to optimise oxygenation and patient outcomes.

“Physiotherapists, and all allied health clinicians, are an essential part of the multidisciplinary team and the collaborative response to treat and support patients with COVID-19,” he said.

The training has been developed by the APA’s leading cardiorespiratory physiotherapists from around Australia.

NSW Health physiotherapists will provide vital support as part of the multidisciplinary team in the critical care environments, assisting patients with respiratory performance, weaning from ventilators and pulmonary rehabilitation. Hospitals will use this training to support practical skills of physios in intensive care units.

National President of the APA Phil Calvert said physiotherapists are already highly skilled in providing intensive care and respiratory support.

“We’re fine-tuning their skills to respond to this current crisis to ensure excellent patient care,” he said.

NSW Health will make its life-saving training package, developed by the APA, available nationally for other states and territories.

The NSW Government has announced a $2.3 billion stimulus package in relation to COVID-19, including $700 million for NSW Health to significantly increase capacity in NSW public hospitals, particularly within ICUs and emergency departments.​