Fine Gael Health Spokesperson, Dr Liam Twomey TD, has welcomed the views of Professor Des O’Neill, author of the report on deaths in Leas Cross, and said that the thrust of his recommendations were represented in Fine Gael policy. Dr Twomey added that Government had failed to protect elderly patients because of the absence of robust policy at its heart.
“The horrors at Leas Cross happened, and could be happening in other nursing homes around the country, because of the failure of the Government and its agencies. It is the Government that failed to put in place a strong, independent inspectorate with the power to shut down bad nursing homes and continued to transfer vulnerable patients to homes that had bad reports. Now that these Government failings have come to light we are seeing panicky policy formation on the hoof, which will not deliver for patients, coupled with the trademark shirking of accountability.
“In health, just as in justice, Fine Gael’s policies are being proved to be robust and effective. Just as the Law Reform Commission and the DPP have endorsed the party’s justice policy so too Professor O’Neill’s remarks support much of what we have put forward in health. In particular, Fine Gael along with the Labour party has committed to:
– A strong, independent Patient Safety Authority, which would oversee the registration and accreditation of hospital and inpatient facilities, set and monitor National Minimum Standards for health facilities and carry out annual inspections with published reports.
– The introduction of ‘whistleblowers’ legislation to protect health and social service workers who identify wrongdoing and want to blow the whistle.
– The provision of 1,500 step down beds with at least 600 in Dublin with the emphasis on rehabilitation and convalescence and a proportion of the beds being long-term care beds.
“Our policies will deliver because, in contrast to this self-serving, arrogant Government, they put patients at their centre. The lasting impression of the Government’s response to the nursing home scandal will be one of complete inaction, able to quickly introduce legislation to charge elderly people but unable to move swiftly to prevent the abuse of our most vulnerable citizens. With regard to their future plans it is clear that this is a Government that is so out of touch with ordinary people that it is incapable of formulating policy with the care of patients at its heart.”