Wednesday, 17 February 2021

Questions (841)

Róisín Shortall


841. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health further to Parliamentary Question No. 635 of 8 December 2020, when the gay men’s health service will reopen; the reason Ireland’s only dedicated sexual health and well-being service for gay and bisexual men, men who have sex with men and the transgender community remains closed despite assurances that a phased reopening would commence early in 2021; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8544/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

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 administration 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 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.