Thursday, 18 February 2021
Covid-19 (Drug and Alcohol Services, and Homelessness): Statements
Denis Naughten (Roscommon-Galway, Independent)
I thank the Minister of State for his response and providing at least some clarity on this matter but we still will not have additional bed capacity as a result of that. I ask him to take that back to his senior Minister.
There is no doubt that we need to get more vaccine into the country but we also need to ensure that when that vaccine comes it can be administered to people as quickly as possible. An online portal has been established for this process and that will be key to administering those vaccines. Currently, pharmacists are in the process of registering online to be vaccinated but the system is not fit for purpose. For the past number of weeks people have been unable to register on it. One individual contacted the HSE nine days ago with regard to it and has not received a response. Those who have been able to register on it have not yet received a confirmation email to say that the registration has been recorded and no one has received an appointment for vaccination. The HSE has acknowledged that the system is not working because it has now put a helpline in place but if we cannot organise the online portal for registering pharmacists how, in God's name, are we going to do it when we have 65,000 people a day availing of vaccination from May of this year based on the current commitments in terms of delivery? We really need to get this right.
The final point I want to make relates to the impact the lockdown is having on other health services. While community nursing staff are carrying out health screening checks on children, those referred for audiology are left in an appalling situation. I will give the figures for Roscommon and Galway but it is being replicated across the country. In Roscommon, the current waiting time for paediatric referrals for audiology is 56 weeks; for adults it is 76 weeks. In Galway, it is 55 weeks for children and 72 weeks for adults. How can we ensure that children will be able to engage in education and in society if they cannot hear and they cannot get an appointment with an audiologist?