A Tipperary TD has said that nursing homes are still being told by the HSE that they will only be provided with protective clothing and equipment where they have a confirmed case of Covid-19. 

The virus has hit nursing homes hardest in the crisis with almost 60% of deaths occurring in nursing or care homes. Several nursing homes are reported as saying that a failure by the HSE to test residents led to more deaths.

Mattie McGrath TD says that these residential centres are still not getting the support required.

“In a letter to me yesterday the HSE confirmed that their policy is to provide PPE to hospitals or residential settings where there has been a confirmed case. This means that Nursing Homes will not receive PPE until they have a confirmed case of Covid 19 which means that they have to wait until they have an infection to get equipment designed to prevent infection, the Independent TD said.

The HSE is insisting that it is helping nursing homes through the crisis, but Deputy McGrath said he wished “this really was the case”.

“Unfortunately many nursing homes have been contacted by the HSE and informed of how to order PPE etc, many are still waiting for any equipment 5 weeks after making their initial request,” he said. “The HSE has to work harder to get PPE to all nursing homes to prevent any further clusters developing.

The HSE said they had established “very clear pathways set up to make sure that every resident in every nursing home and residential facility gets the appropriate medical and nursing care at the right time and in the right care setting, in keeping with their own values and expectations. We want to stress that transfer to acute hospitals is arranged when clinically appropriate and that acute hospitals are there to support all members of the community.”

However, the authorities have come under fire  for errors which exacerbated the spread of Covid-19 in nursing homes, with a member of the Medical Council resigning in protest at government “blunders” which included denying testing in nursing homes.