A waiting time of up to 48 hours for results of Covid-19 tests in Dealgan Nursing Home last week was raised in Leinster House by Sinn Féin TD Ruairí Ó Murchú.
Families whose loved ones are being cared for at Dealgan were informed by management at the Dundalk home last week that, as a precaution, two residents were being tested for Covid-19 and, as a result, visiting was suspended.
The tests returned negative, but it took around 48 hours for the results to come through.
The issue was raised by Mr Ó Murchú in the Dáil on Thursday and he also raised it during a private discussion with new health minister, Stephen Donnelly.
Mr Ó Murchú said: ‘I took the opportunity during the debate to raise the issue of Dealgan House having to wait around 48 hours for test results last week.
‘This was very worrying, given the huge tragedy that had unfolded in this nursing home just a couple of months ago.
‘A few weeks previously, nursing homes were waiting four or five hours for Covid-19 test results, but this has evidently increased. Thankfully, the tests were negative in this instance, but this is not the sort of set up that we need.
‘Dealgan did the right thing and swiftly enacted the strong government protocols. But the results of tests carried out in nursing homes should not be subject to such inordinate delays and there needs to be a far quicker turnaround’.
Mr Ó Murchú also took the opportunity to follow up on a letter he had sent to new health minister, Stephen Donnelly, about the Dundalk nursing home, where 22 people died from Covid-19.
Dealgan House featured in a Primetime programme, aired last Thursday, about Covid-19 in nursing homes.
Mr Ó Murchú said: ‘I told Minister Donnelly nursing homes would feature in the Primetime programme, which was aired later that evening. I brought the test result delays to his attention, along with a request from some of the families whose loved ones had died during the Covid-19 outbreak to meet with him.
‘I reiterated the calls from some of the families for a full, public inquiry into what happened here. There are lots of questions that can only be answered in an inquiry. The management of Dealgan House have stated on the record that they too have questions.
‘I also told him that his predecessor, Minister Simon Harris, had given a commitment that he would look at the HIQA report before deciding the next steps and I asked Minister Donnelly to do the same.
‘I mentioned to him that the families had been in contact with HIQA and were apprehensive about the extent and nature of the report, when it is published. The only way everything can be addressed – to ensure that it never happens anywhere again and so that families can have some closure – is to have an inquiry.’