By Michelle Crean

Local GPs and pharmacies are ready and willing to sign up to the Government’s newly announced €91m national plan to administer the COVID vaccine.

As cases still remain high across the country and county, the Government is looking for new ways to get the vaccine out to the public in a more efficient way starting from February.

The plan was presented and then signed off by Cabinet on Tuesday morning by Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly, and it’s understood that GPs and pharmacists will be paid €25 for administering each dose of the vaccine under the deal, with an additional €10 processing fee paid per patient.

As of Wednesday night, 121,900 vaccines have been given to frontline healthcare workers and residents and staff in nursing homes nationally as part of the State’s vaccination programme.

Local pharmacist Ian Trant of Sewells Pharmacy in High Street said that although they have yet to receive any information from the HSE about how it will all proceed, that they will “more then likely sign up” to the deal.

“Once we hear from the HSE, we’ll have to sit down and think about it,” Ian told the Killarney advertiser this week.
“It’s vaccination centres they should be setting up straight away for more space, somewhere like the Aura or the INEC or any hotel with a big function room.”

Dr Laura Malone from Killarney GP, said that they too “will be taking part in the COVID-19 vaccination programme”.

“It is important for patients to be aware that we do not have any vaccine at present,” she told the Killarney Advertiser.

“There is no special list you can be added to so please do not ring your GP to be added to the list. Vaccine roll out will be very specifically targeted at age groups starting with the over 85s. Patients will be invited to attend for their vaccine.”

DIAGNOSTIC SERVICES

On Wednesday the Minister for Health also welcomed confirmation that the HSE is to make available to GPs increased direct access to diagnostic services from this week.

The initiative will give GPs across the country the ability to access an additional 94,000 diagnostic procedures, such as X-Rays, CT scans, MRIs, and DEXA.

“This will be a game changer for General Practice,” Dr Malone added. “It means that GPs will be able to provide a more effective service for patients. International evidence shows that increased access to diagnostics will lead to a reduction in diagnostic delay, a reduction in the number of referrals to both emergency and out-patient departments, a reduction in unnecessary admissions and an improvement in the quality of referrals overall. This in turn will lead to more effective use of the hospital services and improve the quality of service for patients.”