Covid-19: Dept of Health and HSE ignored warnings on nursing homes

Unite logo white out of redImpending crisis apparent over a month ago

April 21st: Unite, which represents a cross-range of workers in the health sector  including in nursing homes and in the community, today (Tuesday) accused the Department of Health and the HSE of ignoring unions’ warnings regarding the impending crisis in nursing homes, which are seeing a growing number of Covid-19 related deaths.

Commenting, Unite Regional Officer Willie Quigley said:

“For years, unions have been highlighting the failure of both the Department of Health and the HSE to assume responsibility for all health  care in  private nursing homes and care facilities, and to resource them accordingly.  By the same token, there has been a failure to fully recognise the work of those providing health and social care support in the community.

“The result is that, as the Covid-19 emergency escalated, those working with the most vulnerable sections of the community were denied basic PPE as well as the necessary medical backup.

“Unite and other unions started receiving reports of an impending crisis in nursing homes,  related to Covid-19, several weeks ago.  We were also aware of cases for example  where a service user would be attended by a nurse or doctor wearing appropriate PPE,  yet the care worker who would be attending the same service user was left without PPE.

“We repeatedly reported our concerns to the relevant authorities, but it took weeks for them to act on those concerns, and unfortunately many vulnerable people have now paid for that delay with their lives while others are seriously ill.

“Lessons must be learnt from this failure of political responsibility.  All those requiring health and social care must be treated equally – regardless of whether that care is provided directly by the HSE or by other facilities”, Mr Quigley concluded.

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