Why GPs are involved in administering Covid booster vaccines to patients when there are up to one hundred people employed at the Vaccination Centre in Breaffy to do that job, as well as pharmacists right across the county, is a question that many are asking at present.

Castlebar Independent councillor Michael Kilcoyne is questioning the reasoning of the HSE in getting GPs involved in the rollout of the Covid Vaccine boosters to anyone under 80, when it’s often exceptionally difficult for patients with any other ailment, to get through to their doctor’s surgery at present, never mind secure an appointment.

He is questioning the effectiveness of tying up Doctor surgeries with Covid Booster appointments, when the service is widely available by local pharmacists and at the County Vaccination Centre.

This is all happening while there is increasing pressure on Mayo University Hospital, with large numbers of patients presenting at the Emergency Dept and Hospital Management is pleading with the public to only attend in a real emergency situation.

People are advised to contact their GP in the first instance, but throughout the pandemic that has often not been an easy task in the county town and other areas, with the phone lines to some GPs constantly coming up as engaged.

The councillor has been speaking to Midwest News Editor Teresa O’Malley about his concerns over the efficiency of HSE’s management of the health services in the pandemic…

Midwest News sought an explanation from the HSE as to why GPs are involved in the Booster rollout at present. It took a number of emails to a variety of offices and eventually secured a response. It does not address the issue for patients trying to access GPs for a range of ailments, rather it stresses that every opportunity is being provided to secure a booster vaccine -

 In order to give people maximum opportunity to get their booster and to use all capacity in the programme we are using vaccination centres, GPs and pharmacies as vaccinations channels and we are constantly looking at the operational model to ensure the most efficient rollout of the COVID-19 booster programme possible. We have extended the number of opening hours of many of our walk-in vaccination centres around the country in recent weeks.

In addition, the online book a vaccine appointment is proving to be highly successful, as people can select a time and date that suits them. We are also seeing it reduce the numbers of DNAs.

We strongly encourage anyone eligible for a COVID-19 booster vaccine at this time, to take up the opportunity to avail of the booster dose through the multi-channels of our vaccination programme including at our vaccination centres, walk-in clinics or through pharmacies as it remains our priority to ensure we give people maximum choices to get vaccinated.

Please check hse.ie and @hselive on Twitter to see details of the latest details on our walk-in clinics.