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'Disappointing' to have no nursing or midwifery member on new Covid advisory group, INMO says

The Department of Health yesterday confirmed the details of the new Covid-19 Advisory Group that will include members such as Professor Luke O’Neill.

IT IS A “mistake” to not include a nursing or midwifery representative on the government’s new group set up to replace NPHET, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has said. 

The Department of Health yesterday confirmed the details of the new Covid-19 Advisory Group that will include members such as Professor Luke O’Neill and infectious disease experts Professor Mary Horgan and Dr Paddy Mallon.

INMO deputy general secretary Edward Matthews said it is “particularly disappointing” that there is no direct nursing or midwifery representative in the group. 

“Excluding nursing and midwifery from a panel that will advise government going forward shows a distant and unrealistic approach to the pandemic which actually ignores the reality of the situation in the health services,” Matthews said in a statement.

He added: “Theoretical, research, and on the ground perspectives are essential and underrepresented in the membership of this new body – and will ensure a particular, but not particularly accurate picture as time moves forward.”

“The total exclusion of the voice of the largest group of health professionals is a mistake.”

The group will include familiar public health experts such as deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn, Professor Philip Nolan, and the HSE’s Dr Colm Henry.

The Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan will chair the group. Dr Holohan will be stepping down as CMO later this year to take up a role in Trinity College Dublin that has come under scrutiny in recent weeks. 

The TCD role is an “open-ended secondment” paid for by the Department of Health under the same terms as Dr Holohan’s existing contract. 

The new group to replace the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) will be much smaller than the previous. 

It is understood that the government believes some new “fresh” thinking is required two years into the pandemic. 

There is also a view that the group has been dominated by the specialty of public health experts, with a focus now in the phase of the pandemic to include expertise in other areas such as virology, infectious diseases, microbiology, science and epidemiological disease modelling.

 The new group will advise Government over the medium to long term of managing Covid-19, but will not be serving in the same capacity as NPHET has over the last two years. 

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