Drip Feed of Nursing Home Errors Highlights Need for a Public Investigation
Aontú Leader Peadar Tóibín TD has stated that; “as more information emerges regarding the critical errors in the government’s management of Nursing Homes during the Pandemic it is becoming crystal clear that there must be a Public Investigation into what has happened.
“This week we learned of the existence of a HSE memo written on the 21st of March 2020, as the Covid-19 pandemic worsened, which instructed GPs not to seek tests for nursing home residents but instead to assume that if one resident had contracted Covid, all residents had contracted Covid”.
The pertinent section of the memo reads: “Following confirmation of a Covid positive diagnosis within the unit/centre then it is assumed that all residents presenting with symptoms are Covid positive. Multiple re-referrals to NAS for potential COVID cases should be avoided.” Furthermore, the memo discourages the “routine testing of low probability of low probability COVID.”
This contradicts the pledges of Simon Harris and HSE officials that increased testing would be carried out in our nursing homes. That human beings would be mass diagnosed and therefore not treated individually is scandalous. That the section of society most vulnerable, most likely to suffer and most likely to lose their lives is incredible. The decision to reduce testing within the Nursing Homes not only affected residents individually but it hid the true scale of the crisis”.
“We know that Nursing Homes struggled with PPE and staff with little or no help in the initial phases. Indeed, Staff were recruited from Nursing Homes and into the Hospital Setting. We know that Nursing Homes came under massive pressure to accept patients from hospitals without prior testing for Covid-19 and that staff were moved from Nursing Home to Nursing Homes and some from the Home Care setting”.
“We know that initial moves to shut Nursing Homes down to visitors were reversed by the government for 3 weeks. We know that it took months before testing and finance actually made it to Nursing Homes after being promised by the Minister. We know that urgent requests from Care Providers to meet with the Minister were not accepted for weeks after they were made. We know that only a tiny percentage Nursing Home Residents who died from Covid-19 were moved to an Acute Hospital Setting before they died. This despite our repeated real time warnings that this was happening”.
“Day after day, more information and more stories come to light of the government mismanagement that failed of our nursing homes and our elderly. Accountability is not something that is suspended in a crisis. Accountability is more important than ever in a crisis. Aontú has been demanding a Public Investigation into the crisis since mid-April and we will not rest until this country learns from its mistakes, protects the most vulnerable and we have justice for our Nursing Home Residents.