Galway TD Denis Naughten has urged the government to utilise retired doctors and healthcare staff in delivering the COVID-19 vaccine.
This is preferable to taking healthcare staff who are currently on the front lines of fighting the virus away from their current duties the Independent TD said.
“We are now experiencing record numbers of Covid positive cases, which is putting huge pressure on all frontline healthcare workers both in our hospitals and in community healthcare, and the last thing we need is front line staff being taken away from this vital work.”
The Pfizer-BioNtech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines have so far been approved for use in the European Union, and it is hoped that the AstraZeneca vaccine will also be approved soon.
Criticism has been levied at the government for the slow start to Ireland’s vaccination programme, but Health Minister Stephen Donnelly has defended the programme, saying on RTÉ Radio that it is moving at the same pace as the rest of Europe.
Vaccination of staff and residents at nursing homes began this morning, after the first doses arriving in Ireland went to front line hospital staff.
Deputy Naughten has said that the HSE has failed to properly utilise the retired doctors and nurses who signed up for the ‘Be on call for Ireland’ campaign.
In the first wave this resulted in hospital staff being diverted at short notice to help with outbreaks in nursing homes he said.
“In this instance it seems that frontline public health staff will be pulled away from management of the upsurge in Covid infection unless the Government directs the HSE to take up offers of assistance to deliver this vital vaccination programme.”
“As well as staff being needed to administer the vaccine, clearly there are also delays in securing consent from nursing home residents due to the fact that a paper-based system is being used.”
“People’s lives will be put in jeopardy if Government fails to act decisively and ensure that front line staff are left to focus on their responsibilities to those with Covid,” concluded Denis Naughten.