Flu outbreak posing a big danger, doctors warn
The impact of flu outbreaks may be more severe on the elderly and patients with underlying illness this winter due to the lack of protection against the main strain in the vaccine, emergency department consultants warned.
"We remain deeply concerned about the likely impact of flu on patients in our already crowded emergency departments. "Most cases this year are caused by a virus for which the vaccine is less effective. This means that we may expect worse outcomes from any outbreak. The elderly and the medically vulnerable patients, who are the group waiting hospital admission, are especially at risk from this potentially fatal condition," said the Association of Emergency Medicine.
They are urging patients at home with flu-like symptoms to phone their GP for advice before going to a hospital or doctors' surgery.
Meanwhile, a survey of GPs found that 93pc of the 850 who had responded said they support a call to refuse to sign a contract giving free care to all children under six when it is offered, according to the National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP).
The NAGP which made the call said 90pc felt it would increase inequality in the system. Talks are underway between the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) and health officials on finalising a contract including how much the doctors will be paid.
"The Minister for Health Leo Varadkar has suggested that further investment in general practice is dependent on GPs accepting the under-six proposal. We could blithely accept this scheme out of self-interest but to do so would further disadvantage our most vulnerable patients," said chief executive Chris Goodey. "The findings are at odds with Mr Varadkar's stated view that the majority of GPs will sign up to the scheme."