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Doctor resigns from Irish Medical Council after criticising 'mismanagement' of Covid-19 outbreak

Dr Marcus de Brun, a GP based in Rush, Co Dublin has said there was “poor consideration” of nursing home residents.

A DOCTOR HAS resigned from the Irish Medical Council after levelling strong criticism at the government’s response to the Covid-19 outbreak, particularly in relation to the protection of nursing home residents. 

Dr Marcus de Brun, a GP based in Rush, Co Dublin, was appointed by Health Minister Simon Harris to the Irish Medical Council in 2018. 

In a blog post published last week the GP accused the government of a “gross overestimation of the national case burden” and wrote that there had been “poor consideration of the vulnerable, especially those in nursing homes”.

Dr de Brun wrote that the popular strategy had been to isolate the entire population first and those most at risk had “featured as something of an afterthought”.

“Unquestionably the most vulnerable cohort of patients in Ireland are those residents of nursing homes. This fact should have been entirely obvious to all involved in the management of the crisis,” he wrote.

“Most of these individuals are of course elderly and most have significant underlying health conditions. Nursing home residents cannot or could not be expected to avail of the same measures applied to the general public.

“Their needs and care were only considered at a ministerial level on 30/3/2020, long after the arrival of the virus on 28/2/2020. It beggar’s [sic] belief, and remains an evolving tragedy, that these vulnerable people were not considered as the first priority for the state, rather than being the last to be considered.”

De Brun also wrote that some residents in nursing homes where Covid-19 had already been detected had been refused testing up until 9 April.

The Medical Council is made up of 25 members – 13 lay and 12 medical. It has a statutory role in protecting the public by promoting the highest professional standards amongst doctors practising in the Republic of Ireland. Today the medical council confirmed Dr Marcus de Brun resignation, which it said was “for personal reasons”. Attempts have been made to contact Dr de Brun.

In a statement to TheJournal.ie, the Department of Health said the minister understands that a member of the Irish Medical Council has, in recent days, indicated his intention to tender his resignation.

“To date, notice of this resignation has not been received and in these circumstances it would not be appropriate to comment further. The council plays an import role in public protection by promoting high standards of professional conduct and professional education, training and competence among doctors.

“The minister is grateful to all council members for their efforts and commitment to this role.”

There are now 169 outbreaks of Covid-19 in nursing homes across the country, according to the latest data from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC). 

Last week health officials said there would be an escalation in testing at nursing homes, with staff and residents prioritised for testing. 

Speaking to the Irish Independent, Minister for Health Simon Harris said be does not believe the response to the situation in nursing homes was too slow.

“I think people are dying of a pandemic that particularly preys on vulnerable older people,” he said.

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