We are appalled at the lack of understanding of the essential role of family carers shown by the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly when considering prioritisation for vaccines.
It is shocking that family carers weren’t included in the prioritisation as a distinct group in the first place and the fact that the government has continued to ignore the calls from carers to be recognised as central to maintaining the health and safety of the people that they care for highlights the lack of respect and recognition for this cohort of people.
Minister Donnelly shows a lack of understanding of the fact that if a ‘healthy carer’ gets Covid-19 or needs to self-isolate then often there is no one else to provide essential care which will have a gravely negative effect on the physical and mental health of the person in need of care. Carers have lived with this fear since the start of the pandemic which has greatly added to the stress they have experienced. Many carers have been very vocal about these concerns since the start but yet again they are ignored.
When we look at prioritisation for vaccinations, it should be possible to prioritise carers most in need, such as sole carers, carers of medically vulnerable people,carers, etc. GPs may be in a good position to identify and prioritise carers based on their individual circumstances and the level of risk, to help ensure continuity of care for our most vulnerable.