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The co-leader of the Social Democrats, Catherine Murphy TD, today called on the Taoiseach to outline how prepared the Government was to deal with a second wave of Covid-19, should it occur, in the nursing home sector.

Speaking in the Dáil during Leaders’ Questions, Deputy Murphy said: “We now know from the numbers of clusters and deaths in nursing homes just how exposed this sector was and how tragic the outcomes were.

“At the height of the crisis, way back in March, the lack of preparedness within this sector was raised by many, including by me; concerns which were dismissed by the Government at the time.”

Deputy Murphy said these included concerns about safe and appropriate discharges from acute hospitals to nursing homes and staff being recruited to work within the health service at the expense of the nursing home sector.

“We now know, through FOI requests, that senior HSE officials were privately raising major concerns about coronavirus hitting nursing homes in late March, with one flagging their ‘totally inadequate preparation’ and another saying it could be ‘the biggest live risk’ facing the health service.”

Deputy Murphy also raised concerns about the end of June deadline for the report of the  Covid-19 nursing home expert panel which has passed, but the report had not yet issued.

“This report is vital to understanding what went so badly wrong and what needs to be put in place to ensure nursing homes are adequately prepared for any second wave.”

Calling on the Taoiseach and Government to review clinical governance of nursing homes, Deputy Murphy said:

“We must ensure that lessons are learned, that the inadequacies of the model of nursing home care exposed by Covid-19 are fully understood and rectified and that clear and appropriate responsibility and accountable for clinical governance at nursing homes is established.”

7th July 2020

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