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Senator Martin Conway has questioned the UL Hospitals' Group over the number of Covid-19 vaccines it received compared to another hospital group. Photograph by John Kelly

Hospitals’ Group Defends Administration Of Vaccine Roll Out

THE UL Hospitals’ Group has defended its management of administering vaccines against Covid-19 following concern over the disparity in distribution among hospital groups.

Senator Martin Conway said certain questions remained unanswered in view of statements made by Health Minister Stephen Donnelly on this issue.

He said it looks as if the national vaccination group approached all the hospital groups and asked them how many they needed to vaccinate and the micro management of the roll out was managed by the individual hospital group.

“Why did Ennis Hospital receive vaccines initially and Nenagh Hospital didn’t? Why didn’t the mental health nurses get it?

“How did the South West Hospital Group administer 19,000 and the UL Hospitals’ Group only

3,400 in the same period of time?

“The group needs to supply details how many vaccines it requested in the first round and outline in chronological order step by step what engagement they had with the national immunisation

task force and what number of vaccines they looked for.

“Were the UL Hospitals’ Group only offered a certain amount or were they offered a different amount and stated they only had the capacity to administer what they got.

“If there is an unfair disparity in the roll-out of the vaccine among the groups, it will have to be completed on a pro rata basis per health worker at national level.

Minister Donnelly stated the HSE contacted the hospital groups and asked how ready they were and how much could they take.

“The initial amount dispersed was done on that basis, and then they immediately moved to a pro rata basis based on the numbers of front-line healthcare workers in each hospital group.”

The UL Hospitals’ Group provides acute healthcare for a catchment population of 473,000 in the Mid-West and currently has about 4,000 employees.

The S/SWHG has responsibility for the provision of acute hospital care for a population of 900,000

people across the counties Cork, Kerry, Waterford and South Tipperary. It currently employees in the region of 11,800 people.

The first vaccines in Ireland were given to staff and patients on December 26 in four hospital sites –

St James’s Hospital, Cork University Hospital, University Hospital Galway and Beaumont Hospital.

UL Hospitals’ Group had communicated in advance to the HSE that it was ready to stand up vaccination clinics as part of this first phase. However, it was not selected as part of the first phase.

The group was advised during the week commencing December 28th, that UHL and Ennis had been selected in the next group of hospitals to commence vaccination, starting on January 4th.

It was at that point the group was invited to place orders for the following week’s clinics based on learning from the initial rollout to the four hospitals included in phase one.

The criteria included each vaccinator would administer a vaccine every 10 minutes, vaccinating six healthcare workers per hour.

Adequate space to set up booths and facilitate observation periods and in compliance with the public health guidelines around social distancing was another factor that was considered.

The number of staff available to vaccinate, observe, reconstitute vials and administration was also taken into account

Based on these criteria, the group placed an order for the maximum number of vaccines it could achieve in UHL based on clinics operating 12 hours a day, seven days a week.

The group anticipated that it could vaccinate up to 300 healthcare workers a day in UHL. Based on the above criteria we also placed orders for Ennis and University Maternity Hospital to vaccinate, respectively, 70-80 healthcare workers a day and 60-70 per day. We took delivery of 2,300 vaccines in the first week of the programme and 1,100 the following week.

UL Hospitals’ Group had communicated in advance to the HSE that it was ready to stand up vaccination clinics as part of this first phase. However, the group was not selected as part of the first phase.

Factors influencing the selection of these sites included the size of the initial delivery of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine; the size of the workforce and volume of clinical activity on the hospital sites in question; logistical factors including cold supply chain and the proximity to the selected sites of other large acute hospital facilities.

Based on advice from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee, NIAC, initial limited stock was given to people in hospital settings, where medical teams could be on call on site, and the programme would then move forward to long-term care settings.

The group was advised during the week commencing December 28th, that UHL and Ennis had been selected in the next group of hospitals to commence vaccination, starting on January 4th.

The group was then invited to place orders for the following week’s clinics based on learning from the initial rollout to the four hospitals included in phase one.

Based on specific criteria, the group placed an order for the maximum number of vaccines it could achieve in UHL based on clinics operating 12 hours a day, seven days a week.

 

Dan Danaher

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