Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan/Monaghan, Brendan Smith has praised the tireless and brave work of front-line workers throughout the pandemic but has also stressed the huge importance of getting the vaccine rollout programme right.
Speaking in the Dáil, Deputy Brendan Smith commented, “Frontline workers continue to do a marvellous job in what are still difficult circumstances. I compliment all our front-line workers and all workers providing different services for us through challenging times.
“I highlight again the particular role of our healthcare workers. They have spent a difficult year dealing with a deadly virus. We all know they have been working in highly challenging circumstances, oftentimes with a reduced staff complement because of colleagues being out sick, etc.”
Deputy Smith also addressed the ongoing rollout and the issues that have presented themselves in recent weeks.
“Some practices have not yet received their vaccines for those aged over 85. I appeal to the Minister for Health to insist to the HSE that these practices get the vaccines this week. I believe it is only a small number. I have also heard from constituents who are concerned that they have not yet been called for the vaccine because the GP practice has not yet received it.”
On the issue of the placing of different groups of people into certain cohorts, Deputy Smith feels An Garda Síochána members need to be reviewed in this regard.
“I am amazed that members of An Garda Síochána have not been given a higher prioritisation in the roll-out of the vaccination programme. Along with other front-line workers, members of the force have done exceptionally good work over the past 12 months in dealing with this pandemic. I appeal to the Minister and whomever makes the recommendation to review the placing of An Garda Síochána in the particular category.”
Deputy Smith also called on the Minister to improve internal communications with the HSE for GPs across the country, to help aid a swifter and more effective rollout.
“I know from speaking with GPs that there was utter frustration at times with making calls and calls not being returned. Those who called never got to speak to the same person a second time.
“When there is a dedicated helpline, there should be identified officials to deal with particular counties. If a general practitioner from Cavan rings, that GP should be able to talk to a small team of people rather than someone with whom he or she has not spoken previously or someone who claims to have no knowledge of the particular queries.”
The Cavan/Monaghan TD added: “I spoke to a GP in a small practice who was starting to make calls to some patients to whom he had arranged to administer vaccines tomorrow. Unfortunately, he does not have enough vaccine to administer to all of them. That is a source of great disappointment for those people. I appeal to the Minister to ensure that such administrative difficulties are resolved.”