Investigation sought into government and HSE handling of Covid in Mayo

AN investigation has been sought into how the government and HSE has handled the Covid-19 crisis in Mayo.

The Aontú party have sought clarification from the Saolta Group as to when the practice of crossover between Covid and non-Covid hospital wards was stopped or if it has been stopped at Mayo University Hospital.

A number of concerned nursing staff members have spoken out on the issue.

Aontú's Paul Lawless has also asked for clarity regarding an email that was sent to staff in mid March warning them not to speak about what was happening in the hospital.

He hit out: “This government’s handling of the crisis in Mayo has been marked by a lack of transparency on all fronts. This can’t continue.

“To this end, I have submitted a number of Freedom of Information requests to the Department of Health and the HSE to determine who exactly knew what was going on at MUH, when they knew it, and what they did about it. We need answers and we need them now.”

As a teacher in Ballyhaunis, Lawless said his main focus has been on education. However, he has been conducting research into the situation in Mayo with regards to our outlying rate of Covid-19 when compared to other counties, and he asked what has happened here in our nursing homes and hospital?

By presenting facts, he said he did not wish to cast a shadow of doubt on the marvellous frontline workers all throughout the county, many of whom have come down with this virus themselves while working in the most challenging of environments.

However, there were questions to be answered, he said.

“I think one of the main questions that needs answering is why didn't the HSE helpline work when it was set up?” he asked.

“In mid-March this was the reason cited by symptomatic patients who turned up at the emergency department. It seems clear that if the HSE helpline had worked these patients would not have had to turn up to A&E.

“When the segregation efforts were announced in the hospital early on in the pandemic, why did it never properly happen? Why were Covid patients placed in non-Covid wards and visa-versa?”

He continued: “Why did the Soalta Group tell Midwest Radio that the practice of crossover between Covid patients and non-Covid patients had ceased on April 21 when it now seems that crossover is still a reality a full month later?

“I am calling for an investigation into how this happened, and why it was allowed to happen.

“We are a rural county with a well dispersed population, yet even as I write these words Mayo has more than 100 extra cases than have been recorded in Galway city and county combined.

“The investigation needs to happen now. Doctors, nurses and patients alike must be protected and the public at large needs to be given an immediate assurance by the government and the HSE that we can have confidence to use our county hospital when medical attention is needed.

“I am calling for an investigation into how the government and the HSE handled the situation in Mayo. When questions of a similar nature were put to the Health Minister regarding the situation in nursing homes he said that HIQA would be carrying out inspections in nursing homes. I fear that the government will try to blame or investigate the staff, rather than committing to investigate the government’s own actions. This is unfair.

“For too long the state has abandoned the staff of MUH and overlooked the serious issues in that hospital which date to well before the virus crossed our borders.”

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