Nursing home inspectorate delays criticised

DOCTORS are worried over the delay in establishing a fully operational independent nursing home inspectorate.

Deputy president of the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO), Dr Paula Gilvarry, who is also involved in nursing home inspections, said she had noticed that inspection teams were still not fully in place in some areas of the country.

And, she said, there was a huge variation in the make-up of the teams. Dr Gilvarry said recruitment was also constrained by the employment ceiling in the public service.

“You need a doctor, a nurse, environmental health officers and properly trained administrative support to make up a team and there should be one in each local health office,” she said.

The doctors voiced their concerns a day after the Health Service Executive announced that the long awaited O’Neill report on the controversial Leas Cross nursing home would be published tomorrow.

An RTÉ Prime Time programme aired in June last year exposed sub-standard conditions and levels of care at the home, which was subsequently closed.

Dr Gilvarry said she was aware that the HSE would be supplying an additional €3 million towards nursing home inspections next year and hoped the funding would be used to quickly recruit staff to do the inspections.

Full nursing home inspection teams must be quickly recruited in every single local health office area and they must also be given the time to do the inspections, she insisted.

IMO president Dr Christine O’Malley said the amount of time and money being allowed for nursing home inspections seemed to be based on the idea that all was well within the nursing home sector.

“Unfortunately, that can’t be the case,” she said.

The doctors’ organisation, which published its pre-budget submission yesterday, also warned that the accident and emergency crisis would continue to be a national emergency until the Government replaced the acute beds removed from the system during the 1980s were replaced.

The IMO wants the number of public acute in-patient hospital beds to increase from 12,455 to 15,000.

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