Galway GP receives national award honouring her commitment to, and advocacy for patients

Galway GP Dr Niamh O’Brien
Mar 03 2023 Posted: 10:53 GMT

Galway GP Dr Niamh O’Brien has been announced as the winner of the Dr Fiona Bradley national award.

The presentation was made at a Joint Annual Meeting of the Association of University Departments of General Practice in Ireland and the Irish College of General Practitioners, hosted by University of Galway. 

Celebrating the contributions of the late Dr Fiona Bradley, the national award in her memory is made to an individual who has made a sustained difference in health care in Ireland and/ or internationally. 

Dr O’Brien, a graduate of the School of Medicine at University of Galway, is a GP based in Mervue, Galway city. The award citation described Dr O’Brien as “an outstanding exemplar of a general practitioner combining excellent clinical care with a fierce advocacy for all patients”. 

Dr O’Brien said: “It is a great honour to receive this award in memory of the late Dr Fiona Bradley. Her legacy of service to patients who have medical and social disadvantage is one which I can only aspire to emulate. I consider it an enormous privilege to provide clinical care and advocacy to my patients in Mervue Health Centre and at the HSE West Addiction Services.”

Dr Fiona Bradley’s parents, Brendan and Pamela attended the presentation of the award to Dr O’Brien at University of Galway.

Dr O’Brien has combined supporting the development of the practice in Mervue with significant outreach work to patients who face particular difficulties in accessing services. She had led on service development in the Galway Drug Treatment Centre, within which she has led a multi-disciplinary team, with Clinical Nurse Specialist Orla O’Brien, in the delivery of addiction services to some of the most socially disadvantaged patients in the city and wider region. 

From 2009 to 2015, Dr O’Brien also worked at Galway’s confidential support service for young people, Jigsaw, as a GP with a special interest in youth mental health. As it was a new service, Dr O’Brien was a key early advocate and champion among her colleagues and community. She has also been a strong contributor to the Discipline of General Practice at the University. As a GP trainee, she published research on the stress caused by out of hours work among both practitioners, and another often overlooked group, spouses. She produced an undergraduate teaching video on how GP’s can provide care to socially disadvantaged patients.  

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Dr O’Brien continued to be a prominent and strong advocate for all patients including those most socially disadvantaged. In particular, she particularly highlighted the importance of access to Covid vaccinations for all patients. Together with her husband Cuan O’Brien, she represented her daughter Annie, as part of a test case, in challenging the Government’s decision to close special schools. She acts, on behalf of daughter Lucy and others, as a GP Adviser to the UK Brittle Bone Society.

The citation concluded: “Niamh’s care for the individual patient facing her every day in the consulting room and her advocacy for those too vulnerable or disempowered to speak entirely for themselves has made a sustained difference to health care in this city and these islands. Niamh embodies the core principles which Dr Fiona Louise Bradley espoused so well in her lifetime.”


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