Doctors urge patients with concerns about themselves or a loved one to contact their GP.
GPs ask the public to be patient when contacting surgeries and out-of-hours services due to the high volume of referrals and advice related to COVID.
GP surgeries will continue to prioritise COVID-19 Booster vaccinations for patients over next few weeks.
(Embargo 0100 hours 4th January 2022)
The Irish College of General Practitioners, the professional and educational body for GPs in Ireland, has emphasised that General Practice is open for patients who need urgent care, amid the current surge in COVID-19 and the accelerated COVID-19 Booster vaccination rollout.
GPs have been asked by the HSE to prioritise the vaccination of patients over 16, accelerating the delivery of booster vaccines as the Omicron variant of COVID-19 continues to spread in Ireland.
At the same time, routine work such as insurance medicals or surveillance bloods, and planned reviews will be deferred.
The Medical Director of the Irish College of General Practitioners, Dr Diarmuid Quinlan said ”Omicron is spreading rapidly, with increasing numbers of people affected. Considering this Omicron surge, general practice must now prioritise assessing and referring people with possible COVID-19 and COVID-19 booster vaccination.
“General practice remains open and available to patients with acute illness. However, many GP practices now have staff working remotely due to Omicron. While face-to-face consultations were the norm, good care can be delivered remotely. We understand that some people will be frustrated at their inability to contact their GP as readily as heretofore.
“To support our national response to Omicron, General Practice will prioritise COVID-19 work, while also assessing people with acute illness. In line with public health guidance, many GP consultations will be conducted remotely, by phone or video consultation.”
The ICGP’s Clinical Lead on COVID-19, Dr Nuala O’Connor, said: “It is vital that we vaccinate as many people as possible in the coming weeks, and we are working alongside the mass vaccination centres and the pharmacies.
“If you develop any symptoms of infection – runny nose, sore throat, fever, cough – you need to act as if it is COVID-19 and self -isolate. There is a delay in accessing PCR tests due to the huge COVID-19 case numbers, but your action starts when you develop symptoms.Please self-isolate to stop spreading whatever infection you have.
“The type of COVID-19 test ( PCR /Antigen ) you should use initially has changed and depends on your age. If you are between 4 and 39 years of age, and have symptoms of COVID-19, you should book antigen tests, but do NOT book a PCR test unless you get a positive antigen test result. You can self-refer for antigen testing via the HSE website.
“We also urge everyone to reduce your contacts, observe social distancing, wear a mask, wash your hands, and open windows to improve natural ventilation.”
Dr O’Connor added: “GPs and their practice teams have shown great agility and flexibility in taking on this extra workload at a time when they are already tired from 20 months of this pandemic. GP teams delivered over 260,000 boosters during Christmas week.
Dr O’Connor said: “Even now that Christmas and New Year are over, it remains important to limit your social contacts and to choose wisely about who to spend time with over the next few weeks as the force of COVID-19 infection is extremely high in the community.”
“We are doing this to help ease pressure on our hospitals, keep our vulnerable safe and help reduce the risk of infection from this virulent strain of COVID-19.”
Details of the latest health measures can be found at www.gov.ie
Details of the HSE vaccination programme can be found at https://www2.hse.ie/screening-and-vaccinations/covid-19-vaccine/
MEDIA INTERVIEWS AVAILABLE ON REQUEST
ISSUED BY: Aileen O’Meara, Communications Consultant, Irish College of General Practitioners.
Tel. 01 2542984 / 087 2239830.
News website: www.icgpnews.ie
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