Ó’ Murchú: Minister to Read Report Before Decision on Inquiry

The new health minister Stephen Donnelly will read the report from the nursing homes expert panel, along with the HIQA report into Dealgan House Nursing Home before making a decision about any inquiry, TD Ruairí Ó Murchú has revealed.

The Dundalk TD said he had raised the deaths of 22 people in the nursing home during a Covid-19 outbreak with Minister Donnelly, after he highlighted delays in Dealgan getting negative test results for residents earlier this month.

Mr Ó Murchú used his time during questions to Taoiseach Michéal Martin to point to the recently-released HIQA report about how Covid-19 was handled in nursing homes across the State.

The Sinn Féin deputy told the Dáil: ‘The report lays out in stark terms how nearly 60% of homes inspected following Covid-19 outbreaks were found to have insufficient infection prevention and control measures, which possibly led to greater tragedy.

‘It speaks of deficiencies in governance and management. It also speaks of the unsuitability of some of the units during the pandemic and their need for upgrading. There were many horror stories from families and staff.

‘I have spoken to the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly, about the testing delays that have become evident in recent days, including at Dealgan House in Dundalk. A few weeks ago, it was able to get Covid-19 test results within five hours.

‘Last week, it took almost 48 hours to get two test results. I am told that prioritised testing facilities that were available to Dealgan House and other nursing homes no longer are. This situation needs to be fixed.

‘Some of the families who lost loved ones at Dealgan House wish to meet the new Minister for Health. Twenty-two people died in the home during a Covid-19 outbreak. The families want to tell the Minister about the need for a public inquiry to ensure that all problems are arrested and the questions of families and management are answered. I would like the Taoiseach to add his voice to this call and ensure there is action to deal with the problems listed in the HIQA report’.

Mr Ó Murchú said Minister Donnelly had told him he would read the report from the nursing homes expert panel, due for release this week, along with the HIQA report into Dealgan House before making a decision about a public inquiry.