Covid-19 Cover-up will not be tolerated

Covid-19 Cover-up will not be tolerated, according to Mayo Sinn Féin TD Rose Conway-Walsh after she received an unsatisfactory answer to a number of key questions that she submitted to the Minister for Health on the 22nd May in relation to concerns about Mayo University Hospital’s infection control.

Over the last month, I have been contacted by many people expressing concern about the high level of Covid-19 in Mayo and in particular the cluster affect that appeared to be prevalent in Mayo University Hospital.   To give the Minister and the HSE an opportunity to address the matter I submitted a number of parliamentary questions.

These questions included:

1. Clarification of the date on which the practice of the same staff (nurses/carers/porters/cleaners and others) working between Covid Positive/Covid Negative/Covid Queried patients ceased at Mayo University Hospital.  

2. When Mayo University Hospital converted wards into Covid Positive, Covid Negative and Covid Queried Wards to avoid the risk of cross infection.  Can he outline in detail how patients are segregated. 

3. What protection is in place to encourage staff to report concerns they may have over practices  they deem to impact on their own health and safety and the health and safety of patients.  Is he concerned that Staff at Mayo University Hospital and other healthcare facilities are issued with warnings of disciplinary action if they comment on concerns they have about their own health and safety or that of the patients/residents they are caring for.

4. If he can confirm that all staff at Mayo University Hospital have been tested for Covid 19, if the results are confirmed and  if that testing will continue and at what intervals. 

5. If he will consider allocating an expert team from the Department of Health to Mayo University Hospital to restore public confidence.

6. How many patients were discharged from Mayo University Hospital to Nursing and other residential care homes from 1st March to 20th May without being tested for Covid 19 and the results being confirmed.  

I am perturbed that the response that I received to these questions on the 3rd June failed to address any of the issues I raised.  Instead I received a broad non-committal statement which read:

“I am advised by Saolta Hospital Group that appropriate control measures are currently in place in Mayo University Hospital in relation to Covid-19.

I am also requesting a report from the CEO of the HSE on the Covid-19 measures taken at Mayo University Hospital from the outset of the pandemic, his views on the appropriateness of these measures at the particular points in time involved and his reassurance that all reasonable measures are now being taken to protect the safety of patients and staff in Mayo University Hospital.

Meanwhile, the number of confirmed cases off Covid-19 in the hospital is continuing to decrease.”

We need truth and accountability. People will forgive mistakes being made, they will forgive delays, but they will not forgive a cover-up.

I have also called for the urgent construction of the long-promised Modular Unit for Mayo University Hospital to ensure the health and safety of patients and workers.  This is vital to facilitate infection control and social distancing.