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CM pays tribute to healthcare workers, vows continued support for GHA

Chief Minister Fabian Picardo yesterday paid tribute to Gibraltar’s health and care professionals, highlighting their “jaw dropping humility” during this time of global pandemic.

As Gibraltar gradually de-escalates the Covid-19 restrictions and the GHA’s posture simultaneously changes, Mr Picardo thanked those who work across the medical front line who “made this a reality”.

This comes as Mr Picardo visited GHA facilities amid the changing landscape and vowed to continue to provide the investment and resources the community needs going forward.

“I must tell you, that those that I saw this morning, that it has been their stepping up, and their diligence and their work has delivered the lack of casualties to this disease,” he said.

“They will have the ear of the Government for their proposals to improve and further integrate their systems into the provision of health care going forward.”

“They will be the new filter to the service,” he added.

Having visited the new Primary Care Centre, Mr Picardo said GPs and PCC staff “have stepped up in a remarkable way”.

“I want to thank each and every one of them, not least Dr. Elaine Pincho, who eloquently talked me through how they are doing some phone consultations with members of our whole community, not just the elderly.”

“I think we are now providing an incredibly modern and efficient service that our GPs, all our Primary Care staff and our citizens deserve and that we should further invest in going forward.
We have to ensure that we cement the advances that our medical professionals in Primary Care have delivered. They will have our support in doing so.”

“I want to thank Rose Suissa, a veteran of all our Primary Care Centres since they started in the early 1970s for her guidance in the establishment of that new facility.”

“And Suzanne Romero for the work that she has done in bringing this new facility into operation.
I also want to especially thank Dr Valerie Flores for her attention this morning as she outlined to me what the new protocols were for the operation of the facility.”

“I sincerely felt that the numbers they were dealing with showed how remarkable the service that they have provided has been.”

Since the pandemic was declared, he said, the PCC has dealt with 24,155 patient contacts, with that figure including the 111 call line and those called to inform them of negative results.

They’ve dealt with 12,000 nursing contacts, mostly face to face but also telephone consultations.

“I was very pleased to also be able to pop in to see the District Nurses today who have also done such an extraordinary job in this time,” he said.

“Our Primary Care Centre have dealt with 15,000 repeat prescriptions, through telephone and email consultations also in that period,” he said adding that for a community of this size those are “wow numbers”.

Highlighting the work of the St Bernard’s laboratory, he said that facility went from having no capability to test for Covid-19 to being self-contained in its ability to test.

“Alex Menez, Audrey Olivares-Smith and Natalie Hernandez showed me the extent of the work that they have done and I saw how their teams have been augmented by public sector workers who are now helping out in the lab.”

“The level of equipment that we have acquired and the expertise of our staff there is clearly top of the league.”

“All of the tests that we are going to be able to do relate to the companies that have supplied our equipment, which is therefore compatible with the testing we will be doing for anti-bodies also.”

“I very much look forward to going back to the lab to hear more about the incredible work that they are doing there – and not just on Covid-19 related issues but on all the afflictions and ailments that we test for in our community.”

He added: “our lab is quality tested against 80,000 UK NHS laboratories and I am told it is always in the top tier of assessments.”

“Again, we have invested greatly in the service provided by the lab – and that means we have spent a lot of money there since 2012 – but it is money very well spent and invested in the great people who we rely on for this service.”

“I then visited the Covid ICU and the Covid John Ward, as well as A&E. What an incredible set of people I met there.”

“The doctors, nurses, orderlies and cleaners who are putting themselves in the way of this infection in order to save the rest of us from it.”

“I was incapable of expressing our gratitude to them eloquently enough,” he said.

“At John Ward I saw Dr Gareth Latin and his dedicated team of professionals and Matron Joylene Gonzalez.”

“At ICU I was shown round by Arantxa Velez and ICU Clinical Nurse Manager Giselle Tosso. I do not think it is possible for me to explain to you how brave these professionals are.”

“And how unassuming they are in the context of what they have done to date and what they may be called upon to do in future. They are people of jaw-dropping humility and ability in equal measure.”

“Finally, I went to see the work being done by the great people who are manning the new 111 service.”

“I want to also thank Dr Elaine Flores, Elaine Ferro and Sigurd Haveland That is really an incredible new back bone to our health service.”