Government’s handling of COVID-19 in nursing homes criticised by Galway TD

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A Galway West TD has said that the Department of Health made a ‘monumental and fatal error’ when it took ten days to approve visitor restrictions in nursing homes introduced by Nursing Homes Ireland.

Mairéad Farrell TD was speaking after the resignation of a doctor in Dublin from his role as a member of the Irish Medical Council.

Dr Marcus de Brun, a GP in Rush, Co Dublin resigned earlier this week, saying that the Department of Health has failed to adequately address the COVID-19 crisis in nursing homes and other residential care settings.

Deputy Farrell said: “It is incomprehensible that the state was not better prepared for this nursing homes crisis given the fact that residents of such homes were far more likely to contract the virus and, having caught it, suffered far more seriously as a result.

“It has been noted previously that Nursing Homes Ireland introduced visitor restrictions for nursing homes on the 4th March, but were criticised by the Department of Health for moving too fast in this regard.

“It took a further ten days for the Department of Health to give their approval for such measures, and, in my view, this decision has proved to be a monumental and fatal error for many of our most vulnerable citizens.

“I believe it is important that there is an acknowledgement that this decision was the wrong one, and I think the Minister and the Department need to acknowledge this.”

Deputy Farrell added that Prof. Ruairí Brugha of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland made the point that we knew COVID-19 disproportionately affects elderly people and we should have had a specific strategy to deal with this.

“That means intensive testing, physical isolation at as early a point as possible, separate reporting of test results, increased staff redeployment and improving PPE access.

“The Minister needs to deal with several pressing questions as well as making it an immediate priority to do all we can to ensure those in residential care settings are protected and cared for,” added the Sinn Fein TD.