Nursing homes must have a voice at the table

Published on: 21 April 2020

Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Health Stephen Donnelly has said it is damaging and illogical that nursing homes still do not have a seat on the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET).

Deputy Donnelly said that despite repeated requests, Nursing Homes Ireland still don’t have a seat on NPTHET, the NPHET sub-committee on vulnerable people, nor the sub-committee of that sub-committee on nursing homes.

He said, “The State is essentially saying to nursing homes, ‘we acknowledge your crisis but leave it to us, we know best, we don’t need your input and we will communicate our response to you.’ It’s not ok. It seems that this lack of voice must have contributed to the State’s blind spot when it came to protecting residents of nursing homes.

“It’s clear that nursing homes didn’t receive the same level of attention given to hospitals and this has resulted in a full-blown crisis. Nursing or care homes account for almost 60% of COVID-19 related deaths. Clusters were breaking out daily and there are currently 248 known confirmed or suspected outbreaks in both public and private nursing and care home facilities.

“Despite this nursing homes do not have a seat on NPHET and they have had to wait weeks just to get a meeting with the Minister for Health. What makes this even more frustrating is the fact that both GPs and the Disability Federation of Ireland are represented on NPHET but the Minister continues to ignore the ask of the nursing home sector.

“It seems that there’s been big shortcomings when it comes to protecting nursing homes, and that needs to be remedied. Minister Harris needs to acknowledge that it was the wrong call to leave them out of NPHET and he must appoint a representative this week,” concluded Deputy Donnelly.