From top: Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly, Independent TD Catherine Connolly, Independents 4 Change TD Joan Collins at a Dáil sitting in the Convention Centre yesterday
In the Dáil.
Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly announced a further financial package to assist nursing homes deal with Covid-19.
A four-person expert panel, comprised of Professor Cecily Kelleher, Professor Cillian Twomey (chair), Petrina Donnelly and Brigid Doherty, was scheduled to furnish the Minister for Health with a report on nursing homes and Covid-19 by the end of June but it’s understood this report has yet to be delivered.
During his first appearance in the Dáil as minister yesterday, a number of TDs recalled the number of Covid-19-related deaths that have taken place in nursing homes and their views of the situation in nursing homes in general.
Social Democrat TD Roisín Shortall said:
“The Minister often talks about data and data should be driving all decision-making around this. There is now quite a body of data built up and we have many people involved in that. The problem is that most of it has been kept secret. I spent five or six weeks chasing the Department of Health to get data on the prevalence figures. It had it but it just did not produce it.
“…What is the strategy on the containment or the elimination of Covid? I heard about an outbreak in a nursing home. We are being told about potential clusters. What happens if many people come in from abroad? What is the strategy in terms of a rapid response to a threat like that? Is there a plan to target people in a specific locality or setting, such as a nursing home? What is the plan for testing and tracing? Is there a strategy to ensure we respond rapidly to any new outbreak or upsurge?”
Solidarity-People Before Profit TD Gino Kenny said:
“I want to raise a number of issues, the first of which is the effect of Covid-19 on the nursing homes sector. I welcome the additional provision in the Revised Estimates to deal with the crisis. However, the level of death in nursing homes during the Covid pandemic is a national scandal. There is a lot of speculation as to why it happened. That question probably cannot be answered here and will have to be dealt with in a different venue. The relatives of those who passed away will want to know why their loved ones passed away in such a manner.”
Independent TD Michael Lowry said:
“The successful handling of the Covid-19 crisis in our health system required substantial money. Additional staff were brought on board quickly. It took money to do that, but it also took expert management of the situation. The driving force behind our excellent handling of the crisis was the way we managed it. The speed and urgency of the required response to the crisis demanded that it be managed with almost military precision.
“Even before the first case occurred, our hospitals were ready and intensive care beds, critical care beds and step-down beds were made available at rapid pace. Testing centres were also quickly established. The one major glitch in the system was the failure of the HSE to support the nursing home sector in a timely fashion, and we were also slow to roll out testing and contact tracing. That needs continuous upgrading as it is the principal strategy for coping with a virus that is going to remain with us.”
Independent TD Mattie McGrath said:
“Ar an gcéad dul síos, I pay tribute to all the front-line staff and the workers in all areas who did Trojan work. I sympathise with each and every family that lost loved ones. I thank RTÉ for the “RTÉ Investigates” programme last night. It was just shocking. What happened in nursing homes was unforgivable.”
Independent TD Catherine Connolly said:
“I fundamentally disagree that we looked after the residents in nursing homes. We did not. I have taken every opportunity to say that because we did not, although we had ample time to do that. While I appreciate how difficult it is for the HSE, we did not put our nursing homes and residential centres at No. 1 on the list. We failed to do that and we failed to be honest about the testing regime from day one. We manipulated and we twisted and we spun.
“I ask for openness and accountability so that we can all work together.”
Independents 4 Change TD Joan Collins said:
“I agree with Deputy Connolly about the nursing homes. They were not prioritised and, to a certain degree, I understand that because the HSE and NPHET were scared of its lives about what could have happened in the public hospitals because of the crisis in healthcare. That is where things went wrong, because they were focused mainly on the public hospitals and the public in general and they dropped the ball from the point of view of our nursing homes and our older people.
“We saw what happened as a consequence.”
Transcript via Oireachtas.ie
Previously: What Happened In The Homes?