Tuesday, 12 July 2022
Department of Health
870. To ask the Minister for Health if he is committed to an inquiry into the handling of Covid-19 in nursing homes; the form that such an inquiry will take; the timeframe for such an inquiry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37402/22]
There has been a clear national commitment to continue to learn from the pandemic and where necessary to ensure that the public health-led approach evolves, as evidence and learning materialises.
The Taoiseach has indicated that a comprehensive evaluation of how the country managed COVID-19 will provide an opportunity to learn lessons from our experiences in dealing with a pandemic over the past 2 years. This will help ensure that we are in a better, stronger position if another pandemic or another similar type emergency arrives. Consideration is being given as to what the best model for this evaluation will be.
Since the start of the pandemic there has been significant and ongoing consideration of the impact of COVID-19 and the evolution of the response to it, as evidence and knowledge emerged and as national and international understanding of the virus evolved. Throughout, this has included a specific and sustained focus on older persons, and in particular, those resident in nursing homes. Various examinations and development of reports with a focus on COVID-19, its impact on nursing homes and the pandemic learnings that can inform future policy, regulation and the model of care for older persons have been undertaken.
In particular, the independent COVID-19 Nursing Homes Expert Panel was established in May 2020, on foot of a NPHET recommendation, to examine the complex issues surrounding the management of COVID-19 among this particularly vulnerable cohort in nursing homes and to provide real-time learnings and recommendations to inform the ongoing approach to the management and mitigation of risk to older persons resident in nursing homes as the pandemic evolved. This report outlines the key protective measures that we must ensure are in place across our nursing homes, based on learning from our own and the international experience of COVID-19.
Work to progress the recommendations of the Expert Panel report, particularly those recommendations requiring a priority focus in the response to COVID-19, is ongoing across all of the health agencies and stakeholders. Four Expert Panel Progress Reports have been published to date, the latest published on 21 June 2022, and all Progress Reports are available on my Department’s website.
871. To ask the Minister for Health if he is committed to an inquiry into the State's handling of Covid-19; the form that such an inquiry will take; the timeframe for such an inquiry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37403/22]
The Deputy is advised that since March 2020, Government has focussed its response to COVID-19 around controlling the spread of the virus and breaking the chains of transmission and protecting those who are most vulnerable from infection.
Government has previously acknowledged the importance of reviewing the response to the pandemic. There has been a clear national commitment to continue to learn from the pandemic as the national and international understanding of the virus evolves, and where necessary to ensure that the public health-led approach evolves, as evidence and learning materialises.
The establishment of an inquiry or review into the State's response to the COVID-19 pandemic would be a matter for Government.