Kenny avoids criticism of HSE over nursing home scandal
Taoiseach Enda Kenny avoided any mention of the HSE as he responded to a damning report on vulnerable elderly people being left a month or more without a shower or bath in a State-run nursing home.
Mr Kenny held a Cabinet meeting in Lissadell House, Co Sligo - less than 50 miles away from the HSE-run nursing home in Co Leitrim which was the subject of the shocking report.
In a tame response, the Taoiseach said he hoped the Hiqa report "brings an end" to the conditions described in the report at St Patrick's Community Hospital in Summerhill in Carrick-on-Shannon.
Veering off the topic, Tánaiste Joan Burton spoke about needing to "grow the economy" when she was asked to comment on the report.
Mr Kenny made no direct criticism of HSE management when asked about the report.
"No more than having a 100-year-old person lie on a trolley for seemingly endless hours, it's just not acceptable that a report that I read indicates that elderly people have not had the opportunity to have a shower or a proper wash in a number of weeks or months," he said.
"I'm glad that Hiqa have their independence and their absolute authorisation for unannounced visits to point these things out, because where inefficiency or lack of service or lack of standards apply, then it's very necessary that there be an authoritative, objective agency and Hiqa is that.
"That culture has got to change. There is no reason whatsoever, irrespective of the pressure, why a situation like that should arise in any facility around the country, and I do hope that this being pointed out brings an end to it."
Ms Burton similarly made no mention of the HSE.
"You want to be able to address the issues of old people in the Hiqa report being treated in a way that I think would cause all of us enormous upset if it happened to any of our relatives - or if indeed one thought that it might happen to anybody here when they become old - in terms of a civilised society," she said.
"The key to doing that is to focus relentlessly on getting more people back into employment, so that we grow the economy.
"If we have more people back at work, we are then in a position to afford the kinds of investments that people indicate they want into education, into health and into addressing the sort of situations that were raised in the report."
However, families of patients at the Leitrim hospital which was accused of serious breaches of care have hit out at report, insisting their loved ones are well looked after. And locals in the town also defended the facility, insisting the patients were well cared for and happy.
Independent councillor Enda Stenson, who visits a close family friend in the facility every week, said that many locals were furious.
"What they (Hiqa) are saying is factually not correct. The care given is second to none and patients are looked after so well. That they would be left unclean is so far from the truth," he said.
"There is another agenda here. They just want to close it down. Not long ago I joined the workers on a protest for more staff. This is a set-up to condemn the place," he said.
Martin and Teresa Kelly had family members in the facility.
"My sister was in there for two years before she died and they treated her with nothing but dignity," said Martin.
Teresa's elderly aunt was a patient at the facility when she suffered a brain haemorrhage.
"They were wonderful with the care and physio," she said.