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Nursing Homes Ireland raised issue of PPE shortage with Department as early as February

A series of correspondence between NHI and the Department of Health has been published today.

Image: Rollingnews.ie

NURSING HOMES IRELAND raised the issue of personal protective equipment (PPE) with the Department of Health as early as 28 February, before the first case of Covid-19 was reported in Ireland. 

In an email to Minister Jim Daly on 28 February, Nursing Homes Ireland (NHI) CEO Tadhg Daly highlighted that they were “concerned at the fact that private and voluntary nursing homes have not received PPE and members are reporting that they are unable to access same”. 

“I have requested HSE to provide and note statement by HSE CEO that there are ‘adequate stocks’ in place despite the challenges in the market,” Tadhg Daly wrote. 

He confirmed in the email that he had requested that the HSE confirm arrangements for the provision of PPE, including face masks, as may be required by nursing homes. 

This email was sent before the first case of Covid-19 was confirmed in the Republic of Ireland on 29 February

A series of correspondence between NHI and the Department of Health has been published today. 

This comes as Daly is appearing on behalf of NHI at the Oireachtas Special Committee on Covid 19. 

The correspondence published today shows that the communication between NHI and the Department in the early stages of the Covid-19 crisis in Ireland were relatively friendly, with open lines of communication evident from both sides. 

However, the hundreds of pages of documents reveal that NHI made repeated attempts from the February to request PPE and highlight the lack of such in nursing homes across the country. 

An email to a number of TDs, including Health Minister Simon Harris, in early March shows Daly warned that there was “considerable anxiety” among private and voluntary homes regarding their capacity to access PPE. 

“Your assistance with this will be vital to keep private and voluntary nursing homes open as the crisis deepens. Timely provision of such equipment is paramount for the protection of our frontline workers and in turn residents,” Daly said. 

“Suppliers have confirmed to NHI and members that they are not in a position to supply as they state that they are supplying all such products exclusively to HSE at this time,” he said. 

“We appreciate there is unprecedented requirements for such equipment but seek assurance of immediate access to supply for private and voluntary nursing homes and there will not be discrimination applied in providing such essential equipment.” 

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Painters overalls

The correspondence includes details of a survey carried out by NHI in April. 

The notes from the survey reveal that many nursing homes experienced difficulties with securing PPE during the first few months of the crisis.

In one instance, it is noted: “We are using painters overalls, painters goggles, surgical masks that cost €1.50 each. We have spent over €12,000 and have more orders coming.” 

In email to Minister Harris on 9 April, Daly addressed the results of the survey and said: “As you will have seen in a survey we undertook yesterday, there are still challenges in relation to testing and results, on PPE and staffing. 

“I would implore you to use your offices to assist in getting these matters expedited as a priority.” 

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