Dáil debates

Tuesday, 5 December 2006

3:00 pm

Photo of Liam TwomeyLiam Twomey (Wexford, Fine Gael)
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Question 45: To ask the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to further reports on Leas Cross or on the nursing home inspection system which have not been published by her Department or by the Health Service Executive; the steps she proposes to take to ensure the findings of these reports are laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41697/06]

Photo of Seán PowerSeán Power (Minister of State, Department of Health and Children; Kildare South, Fianna Fail)
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The Health Service Executive recently published Review of Deaths at Leas Cross Nursing Home 2002-2005 that was commissioned by the HSE and written by Professor Des O'Neill. Separately, the HSE's complaints review group for Dublin north-east has written a report for HSE management on foot of complaints received from concerned families of patients at Leas Cross since May 2005. That report has not been published as it relates to individual complaints received.

The HSE working group on nursing home inspections completed an interim report in July this year. Although it has been referred to in this House and more widely, the HSE has not published this report as it considers it to be an internal document. Other reports prepared for the HSE are the normal inspection reports on individual nursing homes, and these are progressively being made available on the HSE website.

Photo of Liam TwomeyLiam Twomey (Wexford, Fine Gael)
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I take it the Minister of State is referring to the report by Dr. Dermot Power, a consultant geriatrician, written on behalf of the HSE. Does the Minister of State know the name of the report that has not been published? It is a significant report and I do not believe it relates to just one or two patients. I believe it is along the lines of the Leas Cross report. If it is not being published why is this the case? I do not believe the Minister of State fully understands whether this is the report to which he refers. It is important because at a time when the departmental officials are screaming at HSE officials to push patients into private nursing homes, another huge issue regarding the Leas Cross report is arising, which the Minister of State is not addressing. In the first place the Minister of State should clarify for the House that he knows the report mentioned in his response to the parliamentary question.

Photo of Seán PowerSeán Power (Minister of State, Department of Health and Children; Kildare South, Fianna Fail)
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On the one hand we had the Leas Cross report written by Professor Des O'Neill and separately the HSE complaints review group for Dublin north-east has written a report for HSE management on foot of complaints received from concerned families of patients at Leas Cross since May 2005. That report has not been published because it relates to the individual complaints that were received by the HSE in respect of Leas Cross.

Photo of Liam TwomeyLiam Twomey (Wexford, Fine Gael)
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I do not wish to be awkward but is the Minister of State familiar with the author of the report to which he refers? I am referring to Dr. Dermot Power, a consultant geriatrician at the Mater Hospital who wrote a report for the HSE on nursing homes. Is that the report to which the Minister of State is referring? Has the HSE informed him that Dr. Dermot Power compiled a report in respect of nursing homes issues? Is the Minister of State familiar with the doctor in question and is he aware of the report to which I refer?

Photo of Seán PowerSeán Power (Minister of State, Department of Health and Children; Kildare South, Fianna Fail)
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I am aware that Dr. Dermot Power was commissioned by the HSE to compile a report. I understand that this report relates to——

Photo of Liam TwomeyLiam Twomey (Wexford, Fine Gael)
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That is not the report to which the Minister of State referred. The latter report relates to a completely different issue.

Photo of Seán PowerSeán Power (Minister of State, Department of Health and Children; Kildare South, Fianna Fail)
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There are a number of reports involved, the main one of which relates to Leas Cross. The HSE sought that the review group for Dublin north east compile a report and it relates specifically to individual complaints received and, for that reason, it has not been published.

Dr. Dermot Power's report has not come into my possession. I am aware that he was asked to compile a report by the HSE. I will follow up with the executive in respect of that report. However, I do not have the details relating to it in my possession.

Photo of Liam TwomeyLiam Twomey (Wexford, Fine Gael)
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One of the matters in Professor O'Neill's report on Leas Cross relates to the HSE seeking tenders from nursing homes in respect of the taking of high-dependency patients and the fact that such homes subsequently refused to take those patients. Professor O'Neill recommended that patients and families should be informed in this regard. If the Minister of State is not aware of the existence of a report commissioned by the HSE in respect of a similar issue and if he does not know whether his initial reply related to that report, how could he be in a position to know whether the recommendations are being followed up? That is extremely sloppy work, particularly when one considers the outcry that has taken place in respect of Leas Cross. This is the first priority question of the day.

Photo of Seán PowerSeán Power (Minister of State, Department of Health and Children; Kildare South, Fianna Fail)
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To the best of my knowledge, the Power report is specific to Leas Cross. From what the Deputy stated, one would think that we were trying to cover up something.

Photo of Liam TwomeyLiam Twomey (Wexford, Fine Gael)
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The Minister of State is correct in that regard.

Photo of Seán PowerSeán Power (Minister of State, Department of Health and Children; Kildare South, Fianna Fail)
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The main report that was commissioned was that which relates to Leas Cross. On the previous occasion on which this matter was dealt with on Question Time, the general view put forward by the Opposition was that we were trying to keep a lid on that report and that we did not want it to be published.

Photo of Liam TwomeyLiam Twomey (Wexford, Fine Gael)
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The Government was obliged to agree with us.

Photo of Seán PowerSeán Power (Minister of State, Department of Health and Children; Kildare South, Fianna Fail)
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We did not. I have just explained the reasons for the delay in publishing the report. We were satisfied to have the report published. The Minister for Health and Children indicated that we had made every effort to encourage the HSE to publish the report. It was the HSE that commissioned the report. It is important that lessons are learned from this matter.

Photo of Liam TwomeyLiam Twomey (Wexford, Fine Gael)
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It would not be possible to learn anything from this.

Photo of Seán PowerSeán Power (Minister of State, Department of Health and Children; Kildare South, Fianna Fail)
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The Deputy should allow me to answer the question he asked. Reports have been compiled in respect of this matter. The Leas Cross report was published. Even before the latter emerged, a number of measures were taken in respect of how the inspection process works and we are putting in place a proper training system in respect of the inspection teams. For the first time ever, we are developing dedicated inspection teams, which are in place throughout the country. Proper training was not, however, in place. We will adopt a standardised approach to the way in which inspections are carried out.

Photo of Liam TwomeyLiam Twomey (Wexford, Fine Gael)
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That is a different matter.

Photo of Seán PowerSeán Power (Minister of State, Department of Health and Children; Kildare South, Fianna Fail)
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The idea of publishing the report in this instance was to identify where the weaknesses lay and to ensure that we learned lessons and put in place a much stronger system, with improved structures, that will guarantee proper care for older people.

Photo of Liam TwomeyLiam Twomey (Wexford, Fine Gael)
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That is another matter. I hope the answers to questions in respect of it will be better than that provided by the Minister of State in respect of this question.