by Joe Caslin


Note: We are placing this clarification on the Safetynet Primary Care website [11.7.21] to clarify misrepresentations in an article published the ‘The Ditch’ online publication, on 26th June 2021


The article published in ‘The Ditch’ misrepresents the medical charity, Safetynet Primary Care.


The real Safetynet story is a positive one, especially for those who benefit from the range of services. Safetynet Primary Care provides high quality and much needed services for society’s most vulnerable people in a cost effective manner. Our staff work tirelessly to the highest professional standards and our independent board ensures full compliance in all respects. We care hugely and passionately about what we do, bringing high quality services to the most vulnerable in society.


The article in ‘The Ditch’ suggests the charity is involved in or enables the making of profits from homeless health care through charges claimed on a HSE generic medical card. The article also claims that the charity pays GPs it contracts from the claimed funds. These assertions have no basis in fact, they are simply untrue . Safetynet Primary Care, a not for profit charity, does not claim charges on the card referenced in the article, nor  does it, or could it  make  profits.


Safetynet’s health services are funded by the HSE and from voluntary donations; GPs and other staff are salaried. Safetynet Primary Care does not generate any income using the generic medical card referenced in the article, nor has it ever. We have no beneficial interest in the GP practices also involved in providing homeless healthcare services. . 


Safetynet Primary Care uses the HSE’s generic medical card only for the purpose of prescribing medications for homeless people and vulnerable migrants who do not have medical cards: a vital service.  This has been corroborated by the HSE’s PCRS who are responsible for auditing and making payments to those who make claims against this medical card


In 2016 the Safetynet charity changed its name to Safetynet Primary Care and also changed its remit from a networking organisation to become a health care provider. Prior to this it had been provided with a small fund from the HSE to contribute to the coordination of health services for homeless people through the provision of a shared medical record system to members of the network. It is important to clarify that some of the services provided by network members may have been perceived as Safetynet clinics though they were operated by separate and independent practices / organisations.


In late 2016, with funding from the HSE’s National Office for Social Inclusion, Safetynet Primary Care established its Homeless Primary Care Team (HPCT) delivering GP and nursing services in Dublin homeless hostels. In 2017, again with HSE Social Inclusion, the Mobile Health and Screening Unit (MHSU) was developed to provide assessment and care to refugees and asylum seekers. Last year the Safetynet Homeless Primary Care Team provided 2,134 consultations to vulnerable homeless people and the MHSU provided care and assessment to 1,821 migrants throughout the country.


Safetynet Primary Care mounted a timely and effective response to the COVID pandemic. Our Covid Cluster Rapid Response team conducted 12,735 tests in response to 251 outbreaks within congregated accommodations. This identified 793 cases of COVID in these setting which, with timely professional management and care, prevented onward transmission,


Safetynet’s approach emphasises the need to provide healthcare services for our target group at locations most convenient for them. This includes the delivery of clinics in hostels and drop ins and to rough sleepers from a mobile clinic. We value our patients and we continually focus on providing high quality care to those on society’s margins. We fully support and play an active role in delivering an inclusive healthcare system for all, and we work cooperatively with the HSE and others providing services to disadvantaged cohorts.


We are fully compliant with all legislative requirements, and this includes healthcare provision, financial accountancy and the Charities Governance Code.

Safetynet Primary Care can be contacted at


Phone 019620116

Physical and Mental Health: How can migrants access Health Services in Ireland?
Our Medical Director Dr Angy Skuce was a guest speaker on a webinar hosted by the New Communities Partnership (  Some very important information was discussed about a wide range of services and their availability. You can watch it back Here

Safetynet CEO Fiona O’Reilly in conversation with Sarah Caden at the Irish Independent 

         Read here ......

The Mater Hospital, HSE and Safetynet open a Covid-19 Community Assessment Hub aimed at caring for those experiencing homelessness and others unable to access treatment


Minister for Health opens new Hub at the Mater which will care and treat the most marginalised in the inner city

8th May 2020 


Coverage Report: Covid Hub Launch

08 May 2020

How frontline workers in Ireland's homeless services 'had to change everything' in 2020

Irish homelessness charity Safteynet had to adapt the services it provides due to Covid-19. 2020 saw a 35 per cent increase in homeless deaths in Ireland.  Video: Enda O'Dowd


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‘Being in Ireland feels like winning the lottery’: Syrians arrive after delay due to Covid    Video...      

Fire Moria Camp: Call for urgent evacuation and radical change

Aboard the Rapid testing bus

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Spending a night with Safetynet's Mobile Health Unit

13 AUG 2020


reporter Josh Crosbie spent a night on the road with them to find out how they operate      Read more...

How Dublin's homeless are being tested for Covid-19

Safetynet is a primary care facility for marginalised people in society who do not have access to healthcare. They have reconfigured to respond specifically to the coronavirus pandemic. Video: Enda O'Dowd


The MSF scientist helping ‘break the chain’ of COVID-19 among Ireland’s most vulnerable

4th June 2020   

Minister for Health opens new Hub at the Mater which will care and treat the most marginalised in the inner city

8th May 2020      

Homeless support groups making contingency plans for the spread of Covid-19

13 March 2020

Fiona O'Reilly, CEO of Safetynet Primary Care, said immediate issues that needed to be decided included drop-in centres, provision of food parcels, and transport for those who may begin to show symptoms.


Covid-19 affecting people living in extreme poverty

22 April 2020

Frontline workers operating on the margins of Irish society are reporting a "very high proportion" of positive Covid-19 cases among people living in extreme poverty.


Safetynet COVID-19 response – Update

6 April 2020

Safetynet have reconfigured our services in response to COVID-19 to identify, triage test and treat homeless and vulnerable people. Our reconfigured service means those with symptoms can be tested quicker and appropriately supported subsequently.


Bringing vital epilepsy care directly to homeless people in the community

10 February 2020    

Homeless support groups making contingency plans for the spread of Covid-19
Homeless support organisations are making contingency plans for the spread of Covid-19 among those in emergency accommodation and accessing night services.

It came as calls increased for extra capacity within homeless services to cater for an outbreak, with one organisation CEO querying whether the government should be checking on the availability of hotels or the capacity of the Army to erect a field hospital if required.

Fiona O'Reilly, CEO of Safetynet Primary Care, which has outreach teams that deal with the medical issues of those sleeping rough, said immediate issues that needed to be decided included drop-in centres, provision of food parcels, and transport for those who may begin to show symptoms.

A new homeless outreach epilepsy project, run by consultant neurologist Dr Colin Doherty, together with Cara Synnott, Advanced Nurse Practitioner, Dr Elizabeth Doran, Specialist Registrar and Dr Cliona Ni Cheallaigh Consultant in Inclusion Health at St James’s Hospital, in partnership with Safetynet GP Dr Enda Barron, aims to reduce ED visits by the homeless by 30 per cent and improve overall care for this group by providing an outreach epilepsy service in the community ...

There are clear victims here – the men, women and children who were forced to flee their homes, Dr Fiona O’Reilly writes....

The Irish Medical Times Special Report
In the alleys and shadows, Street medicine heals the homeless

...[A Homeless Service user] has credited the Safetynet Primary Care service – a medical charity that delivers free primary care services to marginalised groups – with saving her life.  She described the walk from the tent she was living in to the Safetynet Primary Care mobile health unit, which provides free healthcare to rough sleepers, as the 20-minute journey that saved both her and her partner’s lives. ...

ISMS-101.jpg covers a story which mentions St. James's Hospital. 
Mobile x-ray unit launches TB testing clinic
RTE highlights primary care for homeless people
Mobile health unit provides primary care for Dublin's homeless people
'Safety Net': providing primary healthcare for the homeless
Midlands woman 'would not be dead' if local drug treatment was available

The Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health was told today there is an urgent need for the link between ill health and homelessness to be recognised.

GAA, knitting and English classes help Syrians start their new lives in Ireland

Coming from a country destroyed by bombs and air strikes, many of these people have not only lost all their worldly possessions, but their livelihoods too. Businesses and homes have been turned to rubble.

'The life of a doctor without borders'
Darragh Bermingham - Irish Examiner
21 January 2020

GP Maitiu Ó Tuathail travels across Ireland to be the first point of contact for newly arrived refugees. He hears stories of rape and torture ...

Press Release: 16th December 2019
Affidea Donate MRI scans to Safetynet Primary Care for people experiencing Homelessness, Asylum Seekers and Refugees

Today Affidea Ireland have announced that they are to partner with Safetynet Primary care, a medical charity that provides medical care to Ireland's most marginalised. 


Disease Surveillance Report of HPSC, Ireland

Volume 20, Issue 11  November 2019 

mainMediaSize=537x291_type=image_publish covers a story which mentions St. James's Hospital. 
Mobile x-ray unit in Ireland used for tuberculosis screening
Safetynet director Fiona O´Reilly interviewed on RTE's Late Late Show
Fiona joins Ryan Tubridy to discuss Safetynet's response to the severe weather, and the opportunity it provides to engage with people who had not previously used the service

Fiona O’Reilly (Safetynet GM) in art advocacy calling for addiction to be treated as a health care issue not a criminal one.

Why do we need the Controlled Drugs & Harm Reduction Bill? Watch this short video to find out
Medicine on the Margins (17/07/2017):  Austin O’Carroll, GP GMQ Medical gave a Ted Talk,centered on the psychological approach homeless people take when deciding to choose healthcare. He discusses the barriers that we as society have built to prevent easy access to fundamental healthcare treatment.