Two more nursing homes query their inclusion on HSE list of Covid-19 deaths

Nursing homes in Ballinasloe and Claremorris say they have had no deaths associated with the virus in their facilities

Ireland has seen a significant number of its total deaths from coronavirus associated with long-term residential care facilities, including nursing homes

Ireland has seen a significant number of its total deaths from coronavirus associated with long-term residential care facilities, including nursing homes

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Two further nursing homes have questioned their inclusion on an internal Health Service Executive (HSE) list quantifying the number of deaths associated with Covid-19 in nursing homes across the country.

St Francis’ Nursing Home in Ballinasloe, Co Galway, and Claremount Nursing Home in Claremorris, Co Mayo, both said they have had no deaths associated with the virus in their facilities.

The data ascribed one and four deaths respectively to the two homes. The data, which was produced by the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) division of the HSE and presented to the organisation’s board, covered some 1,030 deaths across 167 facilities. The entire list was published in May by The Irish Times.

Since then around one in seven homes named have said they had fewer deaths than reported in the data, or none at all.

(June 4th, 2020: Nursing homes dispute accuracy of HSE data on Covid-19 deaths)

The data was produced by the HPSC, which provides official figures on deaths linked to the virus. The document was shared with the board of the HSE as a cumulative list.

The emergence of these latest homes brings the total querying their inclusion on the list to 26.

Nursing Homes Ireland (NHI), which represents the owners of private nursing homes, expressed concern at what the group claimed was the publication of “damaging, inaccurate data” that had “caused considerable upset and anger for nursing home residents, families and staff”.

“The HSE has informed NHI this data was never intended for publication, and not published through official channels,” said Tadhg Daly, chief executive of the nursing homes group.

Reporting

system

In a statement the HSE said it continually gathers data on Covid-19 outbreaks, cases and deaths, including in nursing homes and other residential care settings, through its computerised infectious disease reporting system.

“This confidential, preliminary data is used as management information only in order to get a snapshot of what is happening in residential settings across the country at a particular point in time,” a spokeswoman for the HSE said, adding that such data assisted the service to co-ordinate responses to outbreaks, manage scarce resource and decide how to assist and support residential settings.

“[The data] simply represents a snapshot in time, and is constantly being updated and superseded as newer and more accurate data becomes available.”

The spokeswoman pointed out that residential settings differ greatly, with some settings providing care to those with very complex needs, while others may have few residents requiring such medical care.

“We would strongly caution against the use of such data to compare the impact of Covid-19 within residential care settings.”

Comparisons

Ireland has seen a significant number of its total deaths from the virus associated with long-term residential care facilities, including nursing homes. However, international comparisons are complicated due to differences in measurement techniques – for example, HPSC data includes confirmed, probable and possible deaths associated with the virus.

More than 15 per cent of Irish deaths are ranked as either probable or possible cases, according to more recent HPSC data. Other countries do not include probable or possible cases in their totals.