Ó Murchú: Dealgan Families Deserve Closure

The families of those who died during the Covid-19 outbreak in Dealgan Nursing Home in Dundalk ‘deserve answers and the government has to find a way to give them closure’, Deputy Ruairi Ó Murchú has said.

The Dundalk TD was speaking after families who lost loved ones in the nursing home earlier this year met Health Minister Stephen Donnelly and Minister with Responsibility for Older People, Mary Butler to push for a public inquiry into what happened at the Toberona facility.

Deputy Ó Murchú said: ‘I know that families were somewhat deflated following the meeting, but they pushed the ministers hard for a public inquiry into what happened at Dealgan.

‘Because of that, Minister Donnelly has told the families he will come back to them in the next few weeks. The government has to step up to the plate on this issue and has limited time to do so.

‘The Dealgan families want the truth about what happened to their loved ones. Thanks to their persistence and tenacity, they have managed to get a lot of information through Freedom Of Information (FOI) and some of this is disputed by Dealgan.

‘The only way for the truth to come out is through a public inquiry.

‘There is no time to wait. On Friday, it was revealed that there are five nursing homes in the State on the HSE’s ‘red’ list, where they are in need of significant assistance.

‘In addition to the truth about Dealgan, the families also want to ensure that the same situation never happens again. Again, the only mechanism is a public inquiry.

‘I have spoken to the HSE in this region last week about issues around nursing homes and they advised me there is better communication, infection control and PPE supplies than there were at the beginning of April.

 ‘I hope the ministers reflect on what they heard from Dealgan families and go back to them with a constructive, truth-finding mechanism’.

Ó Murchú Reaction to HIQA Report into Dealgan House

The questions that remain for the families of those who died at Dealgan House Nursing can only be answered by a public inquiry, Deputy Ruairí Ó Murchú has said, in response to the HIQA inspection report published about the Dundalk facility.

Reacting to the report, the Louth TD, who has been working with some of the families who lost loved ones during an outbreak at Dealgan House Nursing Home in April and May this year, said he was ‘concerned by a number of the findings’.

He said: ‘I appreciate the thoroughness of the HIQA report, which looked at all aspects of the care provided by Dealgan to the residents. The inspectors, however, found that the provider was not compliant in seven out of 22 regulations, including in areas such as staffing and infection control.

‘This inspection report is just a snapshot of Dealgan House over two days at the end of May.

‘It is an important part of the picture about what happened here, and has to be read alongside all the other information that the families have managed to gather, including Freedom of Information documents from the HSE and HIQA.

‘A small number of the families will meet Health Minister Stephen Donnelly next week to press their case for a public inquiry into what happened in this nursing home.

‘I continue to fully support them in this quest. In light of what is currently happening in nursing homes, and with the very concerning news coming from a nursing home in Galway earlier this week, there is every reason why a focused public inquiry into what happened at Dealgan House would ensure that the much-needed lessons for the wider nursing home and care sectors are learned, and learned quickly’.

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.