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HSE chief Paul Reid: There are 'obvious gaps' in governance of private nursing homes

Paul Reid said the target of having 90% of tests for Covid-19 turned around in three days has not been met and it is currently at 83%.

Image: Photocall Ireland

Updated May 28th 2020, 12:05 PM

HSE CEO PAUL Reid has said that there were “obvious gaps in clarity” around nursing homes, and that oversight of the private nursing home sector is something that needs to be looked at.

Speaking at a HSE briefing this morning, Reid said: “My own reflections are there are obvious gaps in clarity regarding the responsibility and overall governance of private nursing homes in particular.

“I think any reflection at this point in time can say it is something to be looked at and is a consideration for policymakers and the HSE.

Residents in these locations are often frail and vulnerable, and I will continuously ensure the HSE are wide open to any learnings that emerge over the next while as we are still very much living with this virus. 

“Whatever the model is in the future, you’ve heard Hiqa express concerns in relation to it… from my perspective the HSE don’t have a direct relationship on a year to year basis, we provide support as required,” Reid added. 

David Walsh, the HSE national director for community operations, said this morning that interaction between nursing homes and the HSE had increased during the crisis.

Walsh said “an enhanced outreach role for acute hospitals” would be examined going forward.

“This isn’t so much about the home but around the residents in the home and having the correct clinical pathways to and from various other aspects of service,” he said.

In response to correspondence concerning nursing homes released earlier this week, Reid said that “there’s been much commentary of late about who knew what and when”, adding that HSE actions during the pandemic “have not been driven by letters or correspondence” but by HSE workers. 

“We haven’t been managing this pandemic through correspondence,” he said. 

At this morning’s briefing, Reid also confirmed that the HSE’s aim of having a three-day end-to-end turnaround time on contact tracing has not been met. 

Reid said earlier this month thay by Monday 18 May the HSE aimed to have a 90% end-to-end turnaround time of three days on testing being carried out and contact tracing being completed for Covid-19 positive cases.

Reid acknowledged this morning, however, the target has not been met and it is currently at 83%.

“We are obviously dealing with much more complex cases now, they can take longer or mental health areas or homeless facilities. They are more complex facilities, so tests will take longer,” he said.

He said a new HSE dashboard is set to be published tonight night showing more detailed statistics.

The HSE boss also confirmed that 325,000 tests had been carried out in Ireland and that testing of close contacts commenced last week. 

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In total, 320 close contacts have been tested with 12% testing positive for Covid-19. Of that 12%, the majority (73%) of these cases said they were asymptomatic. 

Reid encouraged members of the public who discover they are close contacts of a confirmed Covid-19 case to get tested. 

He said this was a key part of the strategy to “track the disease and [the] continuous drive to eliminate it”.

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