June 4, 2020
Ruairí Ó Murchú TD raises need for investigation into Dealgan House tragedy in Dáil

Sinn Féin TD for Louth Ruairí Ó Murchú has said there is a need for a public inquiry into the Covid-19 tragedy in Dealgan Nursing Home has been highlighted and accelerated this week with a strong focus in the media and in Leinster House on nursing homes.

The Louth TD was speaking after a large amount of information was put into the public domain last week about communications between the HSE, NPHET, HIQA and Nursing Homes Ireland in the run-up to the lockdown.

Teachta Ó Murchú said;

“The revelations, which showed how the vast majority number of people who died in the State from Covid-19 were residents of nursing homes, can only add weight to the calls already made by Dealgan House families for an independent inquiry.

“I brought a number of families affected by the deaths of 22 people in the Dundalk nursing home together for an online meeting last week, who had been left deeply frustrated by the fact that figures, requested at the Covid-19 Committee meeting in Leinster House on Tuesday, were revealed in the Irish Times less than 48 hours later.

“My party colleague Pearse Doherty TD supported my call for the HSE and the Department of Health to return to the Covid-19 committee to face further questions.

“New data released showed that of the 1,030 deaths, almost 60%, or 601 people, had died across 39 facilities which had ten or more people pass away.

“The vast amount of information that has been revealed in the last week, through the media and from FOIs, shows that nursing homes were nowhere near the top of the government’s agenda as they faced this pandemic.

“It is clear that despite early warnings, from as far back as the end of February, that there was insufficient PPE in nursing homes, that they were struggling with staff retention, that they were under pressure to take transferees from acute hospitals – with no Covid-10 testing in place – the HSE dithered and oscillated about what to do.

“The priority was firmly on managing the risks to acute hospitals – which faced the risk of being swamped with ICU cases – but there was scant regard for nursing homes and the challenges they faced.

“Families, including of the 22 people who died in Dealgan House, were the ones who were swamped, with sadness, shock and grief at the loss of their loved ones.

“One of the most shocking revelations was a department of health report which said that if protocols, set down on March 10, had been adhered to regarding the testing of patients being transferred from hospitals combined with the proper use of infection prevention control, the risk of spreading Covid-19 in nursing homes ‘would have been low’.

“All the information that has come out in the last seven days shows that an inquiry, into the unbelievable scale of the Covid-19 tragedy in nursing homes, has become inevitable at this stage, and health minister Simon Harris can’t delay any longer in announcing one”.

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