Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health David Cullinane TD has called on the government to ensure that any inquiry into the pandemic response is wide-ranging and drawn up in consultation with civil society groups.
He also said that it must include a public inquiry into the failures in some nursing homes and pre-existing failures, such as low ICU capacity, in the health system which made the state more vulnerable.
It should look at issues in relation to poor planning, slow response times, and mixed messaging by government over the course of the pandemic.
Teachta Cullinane said:
“An inquiry into the state’s pandemic response and preparedness is essential. Mistakes were made and must be learned from.
“The inquiry must examine the government’s preparedness, poor planning, confused leadership, slow response times, and mixed messaging throughout the pandemic.
“But the inquiry cannot ignore the wide range of issues, which need to be addressed.
“Many problems that contributed to worse outcomes – such as the severe lack of ICU capacity – were known well before the pandemic.
“The terms of reference for this inquiry must be drawn up in consultation with civil society groups to encompass the wide range of concerns across many sectors of society.
“This includes, but is not limited to, a public inquiry into the shortcomings in some nursing homes and the consequent isolation, neglect, and loss of health and life in some homes. This is something we have consistently called for a non-statutory inquiry into.
“It must also look at how failures to properly resource the health service, and failures to modernise and advance critical reforms, contributed to the difficulties faced by hospitals and the health system during the pandemic.
“It cannot ignore workers’ rights, such as sick pay entitlements, and how we can make a wide range of changes across society and the economy to be better prepared in the future.
“Finally, any public inquiry must look at the ability of the island of Ireland to respond to an emergency in a joined up and efficient way.
“Collaboration between systems north and south was poor and that must be improved on.”