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Covid-19 Pandemic

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 14 December 2021

Tuesday, 14 December 2021

Questions (588)

Claire Kerrane

Question:

588. Deputy Claire Kerrane asked the Minister for Health the requirements in relation to medical card holders that do not or cannot wear masks when attending general practitioner appointments given that mask wearing requirements are at the discretion of each individual doctor; the processes that are in place to ensure they can attend appointments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61352/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The Government recommends that face coverings should be worn in circumstances where 2 metres distance cannot be maintained. The HSE Guidance on Managing Risk of Transmission of Respiratory Viruses Including COVID-19 in General Practice sets out the measures to manage the risk transmission of Covid-19 in general practice, which includes encouraging patients entering the practice to use a face covering. However, refusal of service to those who decline to wear a mask is not recommended.

General practice has continued to operate during the Covid-19 public health emergency and GPs see patients face to face where necessary, albeit with infection-control measures in place. In response to the pandemic, it has been necessary for GPs to triage patient in-person contact with GP surgeries as much as possible, to help prevent the spread of the virus and for the protection of patients and staff. GPs are performing assessments over the phone to determine if a patient needs to attend the surgery. Where clinically indicated, the GP will arrange an appointment to see the patient in the surgery.

No directive has issued from either the Department of Health or the HSE on the requirements in relation to medical card holders that do not or cannot wear masks when attending general practitioner appointments. It is expected that clinical practice should be accessible to all patients, in line with normal risk assessment procedures.

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