Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Questions (688)

Martin Kenny


688. Deputy Martin Kenny asked the Minister for Health his plans to ensure that suspected cases of Covid-19 in nursing homes are given priority and that tests and treatment be made a priority for these vulnerable persons; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that patients in nursing homes tested two weeks ago have not received their results to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5804/20]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

A significant programme of testing across Long Term Residential Care Facilities, including nursing homes, commenced on 17 April following a NPHET recommendation. This programme is part of a range of measures and supports that have been put in place for this sector. The programme of testing for nursing homes involved the testing of all staff and residents in facilities where there was an outbreak and the testing of all staff in facilities that had no cases.

In addition, current guidance requires the testing of all staff and residents when a new case emerges in a facility that has not yet had a case. Analysis from the current mass testing programme will help inform and guide future testing strategy for long term residential care facilities. I understand that this will be considered by NPHET in the coming week. It is important to note that testing should always be informed by a public health risk assessment and directed by Public Health.

Up to 13 May, the HSE advise that over 90,900 tests have been completed under the residential care facilities mass testing programme which includes nursing homes. It also advises that testing under this programme has now been completed in nursing homes (577 sites). Turnaround times have improved significantly but there remain examples of delays which is unsatisfactory. I am confident that the HSE is putting in place the measures to reduce turnaround times and we’re seeing continuing improvement. It continues to streamline the process and to automate where possible so as to reach its target to have an average turnaround time of 1-3 days from referral to result.