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Bill Launched Seeking Investigation Into Government's Handling Of Covid-19 In Nursing Homes

Meath-West TD Peadar Tóibín says over 2,000 people have died with the virus in nursing homes.

A bill will be published today seeking a Commission of Investigation into the government's handling of Covid-19 in nursing homes. 

Meath-West TD Peadar Toibin along with Independent TD for Galway West Catherine Connolly and Independent TD for Galway East Sean Canney are behind the move.

Aontú leader, Deputy Peadar Tóibín said:

"We know that over 2,000 people have died with Covid-19 in nursing homes since the start of the pandemic. This virus represented a significant threat to our elderly and vulnerable citizens, and sadly, of those who died from Covid, well over half of them died after contracting the illness in either a nursing home or a hospital. I remember in the middle of the pandemic receiving phone calls from very distressed managers of nursing homes around the country while their facilities were experiencing outbreaks. In some cases, healthcare workers reported feeling abandoned by the government. There were problems with access to PPE and oxygen in the early days and staffing remained a constant worry throughout. The reports recieved by Aontú at the time were nothing short of devastating. Some nursing homes took to social media begging people to come in and help them caring for their residents.

If our Bill is passed, a commission of investigation will examine all these issues. We all know someone who died after contracting Covid-19 either in a hospital or nursing home. There are well over two thousand families currently grieving because their loved ones died from Covid in nursing homes. These families want answers and they deserve answers. It is important that we hold the government and the HSE to account on this issue - to ensure that we learn from the mistakes of the pandemic and bring closure and justice to these grieving families. It certainly seems like the most vulnerable were left the most exposed during this pandemic. We need transparency and accountability. I am very grateful to Deputy Catherine Connolly and Deputy Sean Canney for co-signing my Bill".

If passed, the Bill dictates that the following issues be examined by the Commission:

  1. The large-scale discharge of patients from individual hospitals to nursing homes in March 2020;
  2. The decision-making process, in relation to those discharges, in individual hospitals and by public bodies;
  3. The response of those public bodies to the difficulties encountered by nursing homes in preventing and managing the spread of Covid-19 due to staffing issues and a shortage of personal protective equipment;
  4. The advice by the National Public Health Emergency Team in March 2020 to the effect that visitor restrictions in relation to nursing homes were premature;
  5. Decisions taken not to transfer patients with Covid-19 from nursing homes to acute care settings;
  6. The medical expertise and treatment available in the relevant nursing home in relation to each person referred to in section 4(2)(a);
  7. The nature of the health care plans and medical records (including individual decisions taken in relation to patient care) maintained for each person referred to in section 4(2)(a);
  8. The increase in the percentage of nursing homes not managed by a public body;
  9. The number, expertise and qualifications of staff and ratio of staff to residents in nursing homes;
  10. Adequacy of funding of nursing homes;
  11. Adequacy of physical space in nursing homes, in the context of preventing or minimising the spread of Covid-19; and
  12. Adequacy and timeliness of provision of home care support for persons who are likely, in the absence of such support, to require care in a nursing home.

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