Covid and nursing homes

 

Sir, – Your editorial echoes a call from the Coroners Society of Ireland for a “wide-ranging inquiry” into all Covid deaths in nursing homes (“The Irish Times view on nursing homes in the pandemic: the need for an inquiry”, June 14th).

It also refers to a call from the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) for regulatory reform.

In August 2020, the Covid-19 Nursing Homes Expert Panel issued its final report.

The detailed recommendations made in this important report are worth revisiting by your newspaper, preferably with a focus on the progress that is being made with implementation.

The report of the expert panel requires careful consideration before any inquiry is seriously considered and reading it could be helpful in suggesting wider questions for any inquiry.

These questions might include how prepared were Government departments and State agencies for a pandemic and what, if any, role was considered for the Office of Emergency Planning before the decision was made to establish a National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) as the lead structure?

What policy decisions indicated the need for widespread privatisation of nursing home care outside of any effective system of clinical governance, and how effective was the HSE in responding to crises in nursing homes, given that it is the provider of last resort?

How prepared was the regulator HIQA for the pandemic and what role did it actually play in supporting nursing homes?

In the context of planning for any inquiry (and for the next pandemic), it is essential that hard questions are allowed to be asked about planning, oversight and governance and that the focus is kept on what is right rather than who was right.

Above all it is essential that we honour the memory of all those who have died during this pandemic and that every effort is made to ensure that the voices and experiences of relatives and frontline workers are heard. – Yours, etc,

MERVYN

TAYLOR,

Boyle,

Co Roscommon.