A potentially damning report into the Leas Cross nursing home will be published in the next couple of weeks, the Tánaiste told the Dáil today.
Opposition leader Enda Kenny yesterday revealed some of the dossier’s findings into the north Dublin facility which was forced to close in August 2005 after an undercover RTE expose of patient abuse.
Reading extracts under Dáil privilege, Mr Kenny said it pointed to a systematic failure by the Government, health boards and professional bodies to properly care for older people.
The Health Service Executive, which commissioned consultant geriatrician Prof Des O’Neill to write the report, received legal advice that it may implicate identified individuals if published in its current format.
But Tánaiste Michael McDowell said today: “As I understand it, the Leas Cross report is a matter for the Health Service Executive. It is not a matter for the Government to publish it.
“It is their report and it is a matter for them to take the legal advice to decide upon publication.
“I’m told today that the HSE hopes to publish the report, or nearly all of it, in the next couple of weeks.
“It has taken its own independent legal advice on the matter. It’s not a question of the Attorney General’s opinion on this being relevant. The HSE is forming its own separate conclusions on the matter.”
Mr McDowell, who was representing the Government during the Order of Business, was replying to a question on the issue by Sinn Féin’s Dáil leader Caoimhghin O Caolain.
The Prime Time programme in May 2005 claimed to expose sub-standard care and patient neglect at Leas Cross.
An undercover reporter, who was also a qualified care assistant, found patients with several untreated bedsores who went on to develop the superbug MRSA.
Quoting from the comprehensive report Mr Kenny told TDs yesterday: “Some 14% of admissions were recorded as having skin conditions and one can only imagine the wetting, the chafing and the pressure sores.
“There were deficiencies in pressure sore prevention and cure and in the management of swallowing disorders.
“An alarming number of people were nursed in buxton chairs and there were damning deficiencies in expertise, nurse numbers and nursing infrastructure.
“There was a systematic failure by Government, health boards and professional bodies to provide the appropriate quality of care for older people.
“Overall, the findings are consistent with institutional abuse on the Government’s watch.”