Cork medical couple blast 'ludicrous' red tape of vaccine volunteer process

Doctor and nurse with 40 years of practice abandoned hopes of assisting with the Covid-19 vaccine rollout due to the HSE application process
Cork medical couple blast 'ludicrous' red tape of vaccine volunteer process

Youghal doctor Declan Matthews and nurse Rose Matthews say they abandoned hopes of assisting with the Covid-19 vaccine rollout due to the HSE application process. File picture: Patrick T Fallon/Bloomberg Stock Generic

A Cork couple in the medical field have blasted the HSE over what they called "ludicrous" red tape requirements in order to become vaccinators. 

Youghal doctor Declan Matthews and nurse Rose Matthews say they abandoned hopes of assisting with the Covid-19 vaccine rollout due to the HSE application process.

The couple have 40 years of practice behind them, but say their efforts to bring their experience to any mass vaccination centre has left them “annoyed and frustrated”.

Mindful of imminent retirement this month, the couple emailed the HSE last September, offering to volunteer their services on a part-time basis.

“We got a reply on April 8 that was ludicrous,” Dr Matthews said.

He claimed that in seeking personal, professional and education details, the HSE wanted a copy of a medical cert, Garda clearance documentation, photo identification, and proof of address.

It also required proof of basic life support (BLS) and anaphylaxis certification, as well as proof of completion of the education programme for nurses and midwives on the administration of Covid-19 vaccines on HSE land.

Dr Declan Matthews and wife Rose ceased their application 'on principle and for practical reasons'.
Dr Declan Matthews and wife Rose ceased their application 'on principle and for practical reasons'.

Mrs Matthews was also asked for a copy of a Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland cert.

The application form itself, which the HSE estimates takes an hour to complete, “wanted our complete work history and, ideally, contact details of three referees”, said Dr Matthews.

The doctor said he found the Garda clearance request particularly irritating because he had been “Garda cleared to work in the local hospital and for the Children’s Act two years ago and again in 2020 for prison service work”.

They ceased their application “on principle and for practical reasons”, he said.

Dr Matthews questioned why he should “go through all this after working in general practice and vaccinating all my life, including Covid vaccinations presently at my practice". 

The HSE could "surely" have checked the couple's suitability from their own records, he added.

The 67-year-old said there are “many colleagues my age who say they also are not going to bother because of all these hoops”.

In response, the HSE said past employment details “help to determine relevant work experience in the calculation of incremental credit”.

The vaccinator recruitment campaign, "is frequently amended”, a statement said, with an uploaded CV now accepted instead of a mandatory career section on the application form.

The HSE added that information required for the recruitment process is purely to meet “the minimum standards” pertaining to registration, occupational health, Garda vetting (a legislative requirement), and one reference.

Finally, rather than engage with the national recruitment campaign at all, volunteers – as against paid recruits – may “contact their local vaccination clinic to make the appropriate arrangements”.

Currently, 564 doctors are progressing through the recruitment process coordinated by Cpl Healthcare, the statement concluded.

The Matthews say they would “still like to participate, if the process was simpler and faster”.

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