Pearse Doherty: Public inquiry into nursing home deaths 'inevitable'

New data released shows of the 1,030 deaths, almost 60%, 601 people died across 39 homes or centres which had 10 or more people die.
Pearse Doherty: Public inquiry into nursing home deaths 'inevitable'
Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty

New figures that show some nursing homes lost half their residents to Covid-19 make a public inquiry "inevitable", according to Pearse Doherty.

New data released shows of the 1,030 deaths, almost 60%, 601 people died across 39 homes or centres which had 10 or more people die.

The Rock, public nursing home in Ballyshannon in Co. Donegal had residents transferred to another home in Stranorlar after the alarm was raised over staff falling ill. 10 of the 19 residents in the 22 capacity home later died, and there are now concerns that adequate testing had not been carried out before the transfer to the home in Stranorlar, which did not have any positive cases of Covid-19 at the time.

The Sinn Féin TD for the area Pearse Doherty hit out at the "blame game" between the HSE and HIQA, who said at the Oireachtas Covid committee on Tuesday that they did not have the figures for the deaths in nursing homes at the time, however, it appears that the figures had already been collated in a report.

Likewise, issues regarding transparency have also been raised by a number of TDs when the Department of Health released over 400 pages of correspondence from Nursing Homes Ireland (NHI) and the government just hours before the committee was due to start, in which it was clearly noted that NHI had raised issues over access to PPE and asked for detailed guidance for the sector on how to deal with the outbreak.

"The figures that have been published, from a secret document from the HSE show clearly the scale of what has unfolded both in public and private nursing homes across the state," Mr Doherty said.

"We have written to the chairperson of the Covid committee this morning, demanding that senior officials from the HSE and the Department of Health, come before the committee and with urgency to answer serious questions in relation to their handling and why they aren't being transparent in relation to a tragedy that has unfolded under their watch.

It is clear for most, and this only confirms our view that there was no plan.

"There was no plan for PPE, there was no plan for testing, there was no plan for transfer that these centres both public and private, and more importantly the residents were abandoned by the state."

File photo
File photo

People Before Profit TD Brid Smith called for a public inquiry after the committee sat on Tuesday, saying the treatment of the nursing home sector had been a "gigantic political failure of our most vulnerable citizens".

"I think it's (a public inquiry) is inevitable," Mr Doherty said.

"I think that the scale of what has happened here is just unbelievable.

"There are questions in the political system in which the minister refused to meet the sector for over a month; who was advising the minister? Why were they advising the minister or was the minister taking that decision of his own volition?

I think that the families and those bereaved deserve justice and we need to learn the lessons.

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