Wednesday, 17 February 2021

Questions (680)

Neale Richmond


680. Deputy Neale Richmond asked the Minister for Health when a service (details supplied) will reopen and resume its regular services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7997/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The Gay Men's Health Service is a community STI service and is managed through HSE Community Healthcare East (CHO6).

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an unprecedented interruption to normal healthcare activity, with all services affected. The closure of the GMHS in 2020 related primarily to the necessary redeployment of increasing numbers of personnel to diverse COVID-19 related duties. Since the closure, significant efforts have been made to maintain service provision.

All health services are again facing restrictions, as the health system needs to prioritise treating those with COVID-19 and rolling out the vaccination programme. Notwithstanding these pressures, CHO6 are continuing to work to reopen the GMHS on a phased basis. The recruitment of permanent staff is progressing (with administrative staff in post) and IT expansion underway.

Existing PrEP users are now being facilitated in GMHS. The Clinic Consultant and other doctors are providing virtual consultations, and PrEP service users can also attend GMHS for STI screening and blood testing, with support from agency nurses. Those with diagnosed STIs will be treated in GMHS also.

Officials from my Department are in regular contact with the HSE to monitor progress on the phased reopening of the service.