Cllr dismayed at ‘massive public dismissal’ of concerns over Covid-19 deaths in nursing homes

Cllr Toibin said that it was known that more than 2,000 of the people who died from Covid in the State were nursing home residents.

Families desperate to find out what happened to their relatives who died of Covid in nursing homes during the pandemic have been given a “massive public dismissal” of their concerns by the Government, a Meath county councillor has claimed.

Cllr Emer Toibin was commenting on a Department of Health reply to her Meath County Council notice of motion in September when she called for a public investigation of Government decision that led to “thousands of elderly patients being moved out of hospitals into nursing homes during the outbreak.”

She said that the decision was taken at a time when the chief medical officer was calling for the doors of nursing homes to remain open “leading to over 2,000 lives being lost or two thirds of all Covid outbreak deaths in the country”.

Several councillors called on Cllr Toibin to withdraw her motion, saying it was “political against the Government” and that she was carrying out a “witchhunt”.

Cllr Toibin said that it was known that more than 2,000 of the people who died from Covid in the State were nursing home residents. It was also known that the expert panel on nursing homes found that more than 10,000 patients were discharged from hospital into nursing home in the first six months of 2020. An amendment that the Council called on the Department of Health to carry out a public investigation into the pandemic as soon as practically possible was passed by 24 votes to one and this was forwarded to the Dep of Health.

In a response to the council motion, the Minister for Health said that the pandemic was not yet over and at this time the focus was on the ongoing management of the Covid response so that the gains made would not be lost and that the most vulnerable to the virus would be protected.

“At the appropriate time, the Department of Health will engage in a reflective process on lessons learned during the Covid-19 pandemic. It is not possible at this time to comment on the form that this learning process ill take”, the Minister said.

Commenting on the Minister’s response this week, Cllr Toibin said that “a reflective process on lessons learned” was the sum total of what was being offered to bereaved families across the country, most of whom are desperate to find out about how their cherished loved ones met with their untimely deaths in a nursing home. This is a massive public dismissal of all that has been suffered by so many when all they are trying to do is get answers”.

“In honour of all the elderly people who lost their lives before their time, I hope the efforts of their families to find out how decisions at Government level led to this tragedy are not in vain.”