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Medical Council writes to doctors over increasing pressures on health service

The Medical Council has written to doctors across the country to reiterate the ethical guidance issued at the start of the pandemic, as doctors may face increasingly difficult decisions in the coming days and weeks.

In her letter to doctors, Council President Dr Rita Doyle stated the importance of hope despite the pressures the health service faces in the days and weeks ahead.

“As we approach the first anniversary of the announcement of Covid-19 in Ireland next month, we look towards the future with more hope than we had then, though still with some trepidation as we continue to battle the third wave of the virus. While difficult days remain, the importance of this hope can never be underestimated.

“The vaccination programme is under way in this country and the approval of the second vaccination brings us further hope that the end of the pandemic is closer than before. Indeed, seeing images of healthcare workers and elderly patients smiling as they receive their first dose of the vaccine amidst the news reports we have been used to for the past year fills me with hope and resolution that better days are not so far off.”

Dr Doyle also addressed the immediate pressures faced during the third wave, writing: “This third wave of the virus in Ireland is extremely difficult both on a professional level with a surge in service demands coupled with increasing staff shortages and on a personal level as you balance home and work life.”

The Bray GP concluded her letter by stating: “As you continue to work in the most difficult of circumstances with little reprieve from the stark reality of the virus, I urge you to look towards the future with hope as the vaccination rollout gathers speed across the country. As the proverb goes, ‘the darkest hours are just before the dawn’.”

The ethical guidance focuses on encouraging doctors to follow their professional judgement and assess all risks to ensure patients receive safe care, while acknowledging that the pandemic requires doctors to be flexible in the way they work. This may involve working in areas outside normal clinical practice, and in unfamiliar circumstances.

The full guidance is available at www.medicalcouncil.ie/covid-19/

A copy of the letter issued to doctors is available at https://mailchi.mp/de9823081df4/medical-council-covid-19_update

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