| 12.1°C Dublin

'200 inspections but none where there's a Covid-19 outbreak', watchdog admits

Close

Dealgan House Nursing Home has been hit hard by Covid-19

Dealgan House Nursing Home has been hit hard by Covid-19

Dealgan House Nursing Home has been hit hard by Covid-19

The State's health watchdog will only begin inspecting nursing homes that have been hit by coronavirus outbreaks from today.

The Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) has carried out 200 inspections of facilities since March 1, but none of them have been places where there have been cases of Covid-19.

News of the inspections emerged at the Dail's Special Committee on Covid-19 Response and were described as "disappointing" and "concerning" by Labour TD Duncan Smith.

A separate claim that the private nursing homes were left "isolated" by the State in the early days of the pandemic has been angrily rejected by Fine Gael TD Fergus O'Dowd.

Hiqa's chief inspector of social services Mary Dunnion said inspectors are due today at one of the worst-hit care homes - Dealgan House in Co Louth.

Mr Smith had asked Hiqa officials if any inspectors have physically gone to nursing homes where there have been major outbreaks.

Hiqa chief executive Phelim Quinn said the pattern of inspections had followed the pattern of those in Europe and the UK.

Centres

He said Hiqa had reserved the right to do what it calls "risk-based inspection" throughout the pandemic.

Ms Dunnion said: "To date, we have not gone where there has been a Covid outbreak" but she added that Hiqa was moving towards risk-based inspections.

The inspections since March had been related to new centres opening, homes increasing capacity, and contingency planning at premises that have not had outbreaks to identify risks, she said.

Earlier, Nursing Homes Ireland chief executive Tadhg Daly claimed that nursing homes were left "isolated" in the early days of the pandemic. But Mr O'Dowd said this was "patently and obviously untrue".

The Fine Gael TD made the remark after detailing communications between NHI and the Department of Health and how financial help was provided days after a request was made.

Mr O'Dowd branded private nursing homes as "very wealthy companies who complain that the taxpayer isn't doing enough for them".

He questioned how much private nursing homes had spent on personal protective equipment (PPE) and extra staff.

Mr Daly said it was in the "millions" and insisted the sector "took its responsibility seriously".

Elderly

Mr O'Dowd called for a "total change in the way the care of older people is looked at".

He said that no one in nursing homes in Hong Kong had died from coronavirus and added: "I just get so angry at this."