Hand holding mobile phone with Nursing Homes Ireland news on it

Minister Donnelly should seek response from NPHET on Covid-19 Report

Monday August 3, 2020

3rd August 2020: Nursing Homes Ireland has said the Government and the Minister for Health should seek an answer from NPHET on its failings identified by the Oireachtas Committee on Covid-19.

Tadhg Daly, CEO of Nursing Homes Ireland, states last Friday’s interim report by the Oireachtas Covid-19 Committee highlighted critical failings by the NPHET that turned out to be tragic for society and cannot be ignored.

“The Oireachtas Committee Report found it concerning that NPHET meeting minutes did not discuss nursing homes in detail until the reference at the meeting on 27tj March to  ‘increasing number of clusters, many of which are in nursing homes’,” Mr Daly states.

“It was shocking at the time last March and April that NHI had to keep reminding NPHET from the outside that nursing homes were the epicentre of the virus in other countries.  We found it unbelievable, tragic and it still requires explanation.  The Oireachtas Committee said very clearly last Friday that it is of the opinion that the public health authorities were slow to respond to the threat posed by Covid-19 in nursing homes. The Committee was further of the opinion that although engagement took place with the private nursing home sector and was used to inform the crisis response, such engagement was not substantial or fully collaborative in nature.”

“Minister Donnelly and the Government will have NPHET and the Expert Group before it this week on other issues.  It should not miss the opportunity to find out what went wrong at NPHET as history could repeat itself soon if the figures keep rising.  The Minister for Health should find out the answers now rather than being sorrowful after more tragedies.  Our sector has never been able to understand why nursing homes were not a bigger priority in the preparations for the pandemic, why guidance was so slow to come and where HIQA, which regulates nursing homes and advises the Government, was when NPHET failed to focus on nursing homes at the outset,” Mr Daly states.

“We believe the Oireachtas Committee should also recall the Department of Health and make it accountable for why it continues to hide critical reports regarding how nursing home care is supported. The review of the Fair Deal scheme, fundamental to funding the provision of nursing home care, remains outstanding three-and-a-half years after it was stipulated for completion. It tasked the NTPF with assessing the suitability of the scheme in meeting the care needs of residents. Coupled with this buried review is a Department of Health Value for Money assessment regarding HSE nursing homes and an examination of Fair Deal undertaken by the Comptroller and Auditor General. This is required to be laid before the Oireachtas by 12th August 2020.”

Tadhg Daly, NHI CEO, is available for further comment. Media interviews will be facilitated by Michael McGlynn, NHI Communications & Research Executive, at 087 9082970.