The Irish General Practice Nurses Educational Association (IGPNEA) has heavily criticised the Minister for Finance Paschal Donohue TD, who said on ‘Prime Time’ (Thursday 20th January) that General Practice Nurses (GPNs) were not frontline healthcare workers.
Mary Jordan, IGPNEA Chairperson, said that their membership was furious with the Minister’s remarks, which she said completely misrepresented the vital role that GPNs have played, and continue to play, in battling the Covid-19 pandemic, “I would call on the Minister to withdraw his remarks, on national tv, which show a complete lack of respect, and a total lack of understanding, of the work that GPNs do on the frontline of the health service during this most challenging of times.”
Ms Jordan went on to highlight the critical element which GPNs delivered in terms of the country’s vaccination rollout, saying, “the Minister is obviously completely unaware that 100% of Covid-19 vaccines given to the most vulnerable cohort of patients, those aged 80 years and over were delivered in General Practice; that 50% of the vaccines delivered across the country to all age groups were delivered by General Practice Nurses, and our membership have let their feelings be known to me today in relation to the ill-informed views that the Minister expressed on Thursday night’s Prime Time.”
“GPNs are proud to say that we continued to care for our patients throughout this pandemic. When patients presented with injuries that required immediate attention we did not stop to ascertain their Covid vaccine status prior to treatment. When patients attended with exacerbations of life limiting conditions too fearful to attend a hospital we did not turn them away. We worked tirelessly to keep ourselves and our patients and colleagues safe in order to keep our practices open.”
General Practice Nurses are also to the fore of many other elements of healthcare delivery across the country, including delivering community-based healthcare across multiple settings and supporting GP’s across the country.
Writing in the Irish Medical Times on January 17th, GP Brendan O’Shea described the impact of General Practice Nurses, saying they were among “the most productive and efficient nursing colleagues in the healthcare system. Practically everything they do is documented with an unparalleled level of efficiency and transparency, given that all of their professional activities are conducted on linked electronic medical record systems. Together with GPs, they are unique in this regard within the broader health system.” He added that they could deliver even more to the healthcare system if adequately resourced.
Mary Jordan concluded, “considering the work that our membership does, and the scope we have to develop into an even more effective function of the healthcare service, the Minister’s comments were particularly hurtful and ill-considered.”