GPs have said they are continuing to care for patients in nursing homes, but that it is important such consultations are only carried out where necessary.
In a joint statement the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) and the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP) said care was being provided to such patients by means of on-site consultations, where appropriate, as well as through telephone and video consultations, advice to nursing homes and ongoing monitoring of patients.
The chairman of the IMO’s GP committee Dr Denis McCauley said phone-based consultations had to be seen “in the context of nursing homes which have nurses working on site and follow the advice of the relevant public health authorities”.
“The care of patients in nursing homes and other residential facilities through the pandemic has presented particular challenges for GPs. GPs continue to care for their patients in nursing homes and in some cases that may be through on site consultations where that is appropriate, telephone or video consultations, advice to nursing home staff and ongoing monitoring of patients.
“It is important to note that on site consultations can bring an infection risk for staff and patients within the nursing home and it is important that such consultations are only carried out where necessary”
The president of the ICGP Dr Mary Favier said GPs had stepped up to the mark across the country in dealing with the Covid-19 crisis. She said family doctors were dealing with the crisis in their surgeries, in community assessment hubs and in nursing homes.
“We welcome the new regime of testing for nursing home residents and staff. As part of our ongoing efforts to provide the best care to our patients in the most appropriate settings, we are working with the HSE to ensure best care possible is delivered in the context of Covid-19.
“Safe ways of delivering ongoing clinical care to patients which respect the patient, relatives and staff are under constant review depending on the situation and intervention required”.
Dr Favier said discussions were taking place with the HSE as to how GPs could enhance their support for patients in some particularly challenging nursing homes which had clusters of Covid-19 positive residents.
“Any new arrangements will reflect the new regime for testing of nursing home residents and the establishment of crisis teams for the nursing home sector.”