Friday 16 November 2018

Probe into deaths of 95 at nursing home

Gene McKenna and Eilish O'Regan

THE deaths of 95 residents at Leas Cross nursing home are being investigated by the Health Service Executive.

The inquiry is examining the circumstances of all deaths since 2003 at the nursing home in Swords, which closed down in March.

Tallaght Hospital geriatrician Prof Des O'Neill, who has been conducting the investigation since early September, said last night that he expects his examination will be completed by the end of November.

Health officials said the inquiry was not prompted by any suspicion about the deaths but suggested it was "prudent" given the public concerns which arose about the home.

Prof O'Neill said he was looking at an "unselected" number of deaths and had particular terms of reference.

The 100-bed Leas Cross came to prominence in May after RTE's Prime Time undercover investigation showed residents receiving substandard care. Footage showed a patient with several untreated bedsores who went on to develop the MRSA superbug.

The HSE was forced to move its own management team into the home but owner John Ahern decided to close it in August after authorities indicated they were going to de-register it, leaving its future in doubt.

A report is due next week into the death of Peter McKenna (60) a Down's syndrome sufferer with Alzheimer's, who died 13 days after being transferred there in 2000.

Part of the current probe will involve comparing the number of deaths at Leas Cross with other nursing homes. It will also try to identify any trends, if any, in the type and nature of death which could give rise to concern.

The latest development was revealed in a reply by Health Minister Mary Harney to Fine Gael TD Fergus O' Dowd, who said he has also learned under the Freedom of Information Act about serious staff shortages at the home.

It prompted him to question if the "appalling lack of care" provided in Leas Cross over a period of years had in any way contributed to the deaths of any of the 95 patients whose cases are being examined.

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