There are nearly 20,000 confirmed cases of COVID–19 in Ireland with over 1,150 deaths. Over 5,400 Healthcare Workers have now contracted COVID–19. These are extremely high figures for a small country like Ireland.
As over 60% of deaths in Ireland from COVID-19 have been in Nursing Homes, actions taken by HIQA and Nursing Home Operators to control the spread of the virus must be questioned. Nursing Homes, under HIQA mandated standards, must have infection control programmes to include proper hand hygiene and isolation by staff and residents who test positive for COVID–19.
QUESTIONS TO BE ANSWERED
- Did Nursing Home operators take sufficient steps to address the serious and imminent danger of the spread of COVID–19 which is a requirement on them under Section 11 of the Safety Health & Welfare at Work Act 2005?
- Did they have safety statements that addressed the risk of a COVID–19 outbreak and did they take immediate steps to protect their residents and employees against such infection – a requirement under the Safety Health & Welfare at Work Act 2005?
- Did they fail to take reasonable precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 from other staff members and/or patients under their care contrary to the Health Act of 1930?
- Did they ensure that proper hand hygiene procedures were in place for staff and appropriate PPE was used by staff, residents and visitors to the Homes?
- Did they implement temperature screening for visitors to the Homes? Did they fail to respond promptly to the outbreak of COVID–19 in their midst?
The level of deaths in Nursing Homes and infections to residents and staff are so high that an independent investigation should be carried out so that lessons can be learned to protect Nursing Home residents and staff in the event of a further wave of COVID–19.