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Lack of COVID-19 testing for people transferred to nursing homes 'unforgivable'

The head of Nursing Homes Ireland has said it is 'unforgivable' that people were transferred from...
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

07.41 26 May 2020


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Lack of COVID-19 testing for p...

Lack of COVID-19 testing for people transferred to nursing homes 'unforgivable'

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

07.41 26 May 2020


Share this article


The head of Nursing Homes Ireland has said it is 'unforgivable' that people were transferred from acute hospitals to nursing homes without being tested for COVID-19.

Tadhg Daly is appearing before the Dáil Special Committee on COVID-19 Response on Tuesday.

He will appear along with representatives from the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) and the Sage Advocacy group to address what went wrong in nursing homes.

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Ahead of his committee appearance, he told Newstalk Breakfast a lack of testing was one of the main issues.

"It's been a particularly challenging period for the health service generally, but the nursing homes sector has been literally at the frontline of this pandemic.

"Ultimately this is not about finger pointing, this is about learning [from] the mistakes that were made.

"From our point of view, clearly there is four issues that we're highlighting to the Oireachtas committee today.

"One was the issue of testing: we would have felt that there was insufficient testing of both residents and staff at an early stage - particularly given the large numbers of asymptomatic people in the community.

"PPE obviously was a huge, huge issue - not just for nursing homes, for the entire health service - and that had a huge impact.

"We also suffered in the nursing home sector by what we would term aggressive recruitment by the HSE, very much in the early stages.

"And I suppose one of the most significant issues of all for us was the fact that large numbers of people were transferred from the acute hospitals out into nursing homes without being tested.

"Clearly the health service was getting the acute hospital system ready for that surge - getting ICU beds ready - and that was the appropriate thing to do.

"But there was a blind spot, if you like, in terms of ensuring that those residents who were discharged should have been tested prior to discharge from the acute hospitals.

"And that to us was a significant factor in this particular challenge".

"Even in recent days we're still seeing situations whereby nursing homes are being requested to take patients from the acute hospitals to nursing homes without appropriate testing.

"It's still an issue for us and that's unforgivable in my mind.

"Clearly what you don't know in terms of what you can't measure, you can't manage as it were."

He said early studies suggested that some 40% of people were asymptomatic, "so it wasn't people showing symptoms and that was a huge, huge issue".

On staffing issues, Mr Daly said the COVID-19 payments hurt their attempts to recruit new staff.

"I don't think it was disincentive to existing staff members - the existing staff members left their homes, left their families to come in and care for those that they care for and that they love dearly, so that wouldn't be a feature in my mind."

"But the other point I'd make to you is it did have a disincentive in terms of recruiting some people, and that was our experience definitely in terms of trying to attract new people into the sector".

Lack of COVID-19 testing for people transferred to nursing homes 'unforgivable'

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Main image: File photo of a nursing home in Dublin. Picture by: RollingNews.ie

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COVID-19 Testing Health Information And Quality Authority Newstalk Breakfast Nursing Homes Ireland Oireachtas Committee Special Committee On COVID-19 Response Tadhg Daly Unforgivable

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