Sinn Féin TD for Louth Ruairí Ó Murchú has welcomed the publication of the Covid-19 Nursing Home Expert Panel Report and reiterated his support for a public inquiry which has been requested by families whose loved ones died in Dealgan Nursing Home in Dundalk.
Teachta Ó Murchú said: “This report has laid out the overall context for the devastation that was the tragic result of an inadequate system.
“The system failed to properly clinically oversee nursing homes and there was a chronic lack of communication infrastructure between the HSE, the Department of Health and homes.
“We must learn from this. There can’t be the same reliance on the private sector to look after older people.
“It is absolutely vital that poor practice and dysfunction in nursing homes are arrested straight away and there is a commitment and adherence to the very best procedure.
“The report contains no answers, however, for the families of those who died from Covid-19 in Dealgan House and I continue to support them in their quest for a public inquiry into what has happened here.
“It is the only way they are going to get answers as to what took place. A public inquiry is the only correct means of ascertaining, assessing and addressing some of the serious issues raised in the expert panel report such as infection control and staffing levels.
“Families, and indeed the owners of the nursing home, have repeatedly stated they are looking for answers as to how so many people died at this facility.
“Health Minister Stephen Donnelly has now got this report on his desk, along with last month’s report from HIQA on Covid-19 in nursing homes.
“We await the publication of the HIQA inspection at Dealgan Nursing Home and when it is published, Minister Donnelly will have everything he and his predecessor said they needed in order to make a determination about a public inquiry.
“There needs to be urgent and complete reform of how we look after older people, with far more choice given to those who need care.
‘Rather than the almost inevitable journey to a nursing home, many older people should be able to be cared for in their own homes, with better quality of life for them.
“With the publication of this report, the government has been told in stark terms: the current system is failing older people and their families, with devastating consequences.
“We need a clear pathway outlined by government on how these recommendations will be implemented, particularly the most urgent ones protecting nursing home residents from further Covid-19 outbreaks.
“One of the most important is, of course, fit for purpose testing, tracing and isolating.”