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Dublin: 16 °C Saturday 11 July, 2020

The HSE has NOT abandoned plans to use CCTV in care homes

They have come to a junction because of privacy issues, however, and are now seeking expert advice on how to move forward.

65-year-old Mary Garvan, who featured in the RTÉ Prime Time report.
65-year-old Mary Garvan, who featured in the RTÉ Prime Time report.
Image: RTÉ

THE HSE TODAY said it has not, in fact, abandoned plans to monitor practices in social care facilities using CCTV cameras and undercover investigations.

After an RTÉ investigation revealed horrific abuse at the Aras Attracta care home for people with disabilities, the HSE promised to put measures in place to try to prevent this. Following the broadcast of the investigation, HSE director general Tony O’Brien said undercover staff would be sent into centres randomly and CCTV was not ruled out.

Last month, the HSE also issued a tender for surveillance and security system solutions “in order to enhance the protection of vulnerable clients, patients, service users and staff”.

It appeared this morning, however, as though this plan might be put on the long finger, as a statement given to the Irish Independent said the HSE believes the installation of cameras in residential facilities would impinge on the privacy of residents.

Therefore the HSE has not progressed the suggestions that cameras or undercover reporters be used in care homes

Today, a spokesperson for the HSE said that while implications the plan has been “abandoned” are not accurate, “the sentiment is correct”. “We do have concerns about privacy and we have concerns about dignity as well,” they said.

The health service is still looking at ways to implement these protection measures, they said, while also keeping privacy and data protection issues in mind.

A Prior Information Notice (PIN) has been issued in order to secure advice for the HSE from expert consultants in the area of monitoring and surveillance.

A statement today said:

As the HSE has never undertaken such measures previously, and is conscious of potential difficulties in relation to privacy and data protection, expert consultants will advise on the best way to proceed.

The spokesperson reiterated this, telling that the bar for the HSE in terms of putting in cameras would be higher than the bar for an RTÉ investigation.

“We have to make sure that we dot the i’s and cross the t’s and make sure that a) it’s not illegal, b) it’s not impractical and c) it doesn’t cause a bigger problem than it solves.”

The HSE said it will continue to develop this plan as part of its six-step plan to address the quality and safety of individuals in residential services.

Related: HSE issues tender for surveillance system following Áras Attracta expóse>

More: ‘Detached, isolated and ill-informed HSE’ at play in Áras Attracta, says nurses group>

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