Summitto gauge extent of abuse

Senior HSE officials are set to hold a major summit on Tuesday over concerns the Áras Attracta scandal could be repeated in more of the country’s 900-plus residential institutions.

National director of social care, Pat Healy, confirmed the move after full details of the abuse scandal at the home for people with intellectual disabilities was revealed.

In a statement setting out the HSE’s response to the crisis, Mr Healy — who has come under pressure to resign due to the revelations, despite only being in his role for a year — said the summit will be held in Dublin and will include officials from across the health service.

He said the meeting —which will also involve a “system-wide examination” of care homes — would be tasked with improving “client safety, dignity, respect, and culture change” among staff, and with re-doubling efforts to examine whether the incidents at Áras Attracta are being repeated in other facilities.

The high-profile meeting is expected to follow along the same lines as that organised by Environment Minister Alan Kelly last week in a bid to tackle homelessness.

However, a potential stumbling blockwill be the fact the meeting is likely to be almost entirely confined to senior HSE managers, who alongside the Health Information Quality Authority, have already been shown by the RTÉ report to have failed to uncover what was happening at Aras Attracta — meaning they may be unaware of similar incidents elsewhere.

The HSE is also effectively handcuffed to its budget for next year which opposition TDs and patient groups noted when it was launched late last month leaves “no room for manoeuvre”.

In response to the scandal the HSE is to place nine staff members “off duty” while separate HSE, Hiqa, and Garda investigations into the alleged abuse take place.

It has also asked KARE chief executive, Christy Lynch, to act as independent chairman of the HSE inquiry and has placed “practice co-ordinators” in the Aras Attracta unit to “supervise and implement” care plans for residents. In addition, a “full assurance review” of every unit in the Mayo care home, led by independent chairman Dr Kevin McCoy, is taking place.

Meanwhile, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation and the Psychiatric Nurses Association have “unreservedly” condemned what had been happening at Áras Attracta.

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