GP resigns from Medical Council over 'systemic failures' to protect nursing homes amid Covid-19

GP resigns from Medical Council over 'systemic failures' to protect nursing homes amid Covid-19

A member of the Irish Medical Council has resigned from his position on foot of what he described as the Government’s failure in its “obligations”’ to his patients and to “the people of Ireland” over the course of the coronavirus crisis.

Dr Marcus de Brun, a general practitioner in Rush, north Co Dublin, told health minister Simon Harris in a letter on Saturday that he was delivering his resignation due to the treatment of the residents of a nursing home in north Dublin, who had, according to the doctor, been refused testing for the virus up until April 9.

He said that many of 52 residents of the home which he provides care for have died in the past 10 days.

“Essentially, those most vulnerable members of Irish society, those who should have been considered as a first priority for your administration, were treated as something of an inconvenient afterthought,” he wrote.

“The consequences of these systemic failures are currently sweeping through the nursing home sector.

It is my firm conviction that many deaths and much suffering might well have been avoided had the most at-risk portion of our society been afforded care, help, and respect at the beginning, rather than in the middle or towards the end of this crisis.

More than 50% of the 610 deaths from Covid-19 thus far in Ireland have originated in nursing or residential care homes, a fact that has seen the Government and the health authorities receive a deal of criticism in recent days.

The National Public Health Emergency Team meanwhile said on Friday that testing of all people in such institutions is being prioritised for the next seven days.

Dr de Brun declined to comment for this story. The Medical Council acknowledged that two of its 12 members have indicated their desire to resign in recent times - Dr de Brun for “personal reasons”, and Ms Alison Lindsay on health grounds.

Dr de Brun was first elected to the council for a five-year term in 2018. Less than a year previously he had faced a fitness to practice inquiry before the same body owing to his refusal to participate in a professional assessment programme having been referred to attend same by the council in 2015.

He was cleared by the inquiry of having contravened a provision of the Medical Practitioners Act 2007.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health said that Dr de Brun’s resignation notice has, as yet, not been received.

“In these circumstances it would not be appropriate to comment further,” they said.

    Useful information
  • The HSE have developed an information pack on how to protect yourself and others from coronavirus. Read it here
  • Anyone with symptoms of coronavirus who has been in close contact with a confirmed case in the last 14 days should isolate themselves from other people - this means going into a different, well-ventilated room alone, with a phone; phone their GP, or emergency department;
  • GPs Out of Hours services are not in a position to order testing for patients with normal cold and flu-like symptoms. HSELive is an information line and similarly not in a position to order testing for members of the public. The public is asked to reserve 112/999 for medical emergencies at all times.
  • ALONE has launched a national support line and additional supports for older people who have concerns or are facing difficulties relating to the outbreak of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in Ireland. The support line will be open seven days a week, 8am-8pm, by calling 0818 222 024

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