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Fintan Moore ponders the ‘Expression of interest’ form and the myriad of potential responses to its questions

After being a bit slow to get going, the country’s vaccination programme is rattling along not too badly at the moment. Having said that, it’s obvious that if pharmacists had been involved at an earlier stage, then we would be a lot further down the road to a fully vaccinated population than we are now. At time of writing, pharmacies around the country are awaiting supplies to allow them vaccinate any remaining over-50s. Meanwhile, many GP practices are blistering through numbers at a pace that is eye-watering. I have visions of GPs throughout the land emerging from the surgery wearing bandoliers of syringes like Mexican bandits and wading through the massed waiting room, injecting with both hands.

Any pharmacists who completed the HSE’s ‘Expression of Interest’ form to register a desire to be involved in the vaccination programme must be wondering what the answers must have looked like for some GP practices. I have attempted to fill one in here:

The premises where the vaccination service will be provided can maintain social distancing and infection control measures throughout the patient visit to the site(s).

a) Insert floor size (outside of GP’s consultation room):
About 20 feet by 20 feet, but the footpath outside is several hundred feet long.

b) Where relevant, insert size of observation area if not within current medical practice footprint:
There are 20 parking spaces outside, so the area is 20 times the size of a car.

c) Insert anticipated numbers of patients that could be vaccinated at the location in a week:
Lots, loads, tonnes.

d) How would you co-ordinate vaccine capacity alongside existing medical services?

e) How would you ensure that there is capacity and capability to co-ordinate administration activities?
We need to do the admin to get paid, so we’ll manage.

f) How do you propose to provide a waiting area which allows for patients to wait for the required 15-minute post-vaccination observation period and social distancing requirements?

Any pharmacists who completed the HSE’s ‘Expression of Interest’ form must be wondering what the answers must have looked like for some GP practices

We’ve a window looking out at the car park. Joking aside, it’s great that doctors have been able to get the throughput of numbers that they have. The faster the population gets processed, the sooner we get back to regular life. It has been tough at times for GPs organising the vaccination clinics. One GP I know of had 900 people lined-up to be vaccinated on a Saturday, but when his delivery came on the Thursday, he had only got enough doses to do 700. That necessitated the cancellation of 200 people at short notice, and subsequent rebooking. Hopefully by the time pharmacists are vaccinating in any significant numbers, the supply chain issues will be sorted out.

Ronaldo — Simply the Best

I’m not a huge football fan, so my opinion on players doesn’t carry any weight, but I know that any list of the top-10 players in the world will usually contain Cristiano Ronaldo. He has been consistently near the top spot for years, and despite now being 36, he is still a force to be reckoned with. Part of the reason for his longevity is that he is renowned for being meticulous about looking after his health, and particularly his diet.

So if you haven’t seen the footage of his reaction to two bottles of Coca-Cola at a Euro 2020 press conference (yes, I know it’s being played in 2021 but it’s officially Euro 2020), then it’s worth googling. Coca-Cola are one of the big sponsors, so they get to place a couple of bottles of their junk fluid on the table in front of any interviewees, despite their products being a huge factor in the global rise of obesity and diabetes. Ronaldo sat down, looked at the two bottles with undisguised disgust, then moved them as far away from himself as possible, after which he held up his water bottle to the audience and said, “Agua”. The word ‘legend’ gets over-used in sport but in this case, the man’s definitely a legend.

Error, Repeat,
Error, Repeat

It sometimes seems to be the case that an error in a patient’s medication list on a GP’s computer system is like somebody becoming a member of the Russian mafia — once it’s in, there’s no way out. I have a handful of patients who get computer-generated prescriptions from their GPs every six months, and the same mistake appears on the prescription every time, and we contact the surgery for clarification every time, and the surgery confirms that we can ignore the mistake every time, but they never actually change it on their system.

Or even if they do, six months later they still somehow manage to copy the old erroneous dose again instead of issuing the corrected dose. At least with healthmail it’s easier to raise the query, so I’ve created a hit-list of repeated errors to try and resolve permanently, but I suspect the list will win.

<strong>Fintan Moore</strong>
Fintan Moore

Fintan Moore graduated as a pharmacist in 1990 from TCD and currently runs a pharmacy in Clondalkin.