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Minister 'shocked and lost for words' over abuse footage

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Kathleen Lynch

Kathleen Lynch

Kathleen Lynch

JUNIOR Health Minister Kathleen Lynch has admitted that she cannot guarantee that the abuse suffered at a HSE-run facility is not happening elsewhere.

Ms Lynch said she was "lost for words" after watching the investigation into treatment of residents at Aras Attracta in Swinford, Co Mayo, broadcast on RTE's Prime Time last night.

"I'm sure I wasn't the only one who was lost for words and shocked," she said.

"I couldn't genuinely hand on heart say that this is not happening somewhere else. I would hope it's not.

"I would hope that last night's programme is a wake-up call for people to know that despite the fact that we're not certain how long this has been going on for, that we simply cannot tolerate this type of behaviour."

Ms Lynch said that while the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) "does an excellent job in a range of areas, we are going to need something extra in terms of this particular group of people".

She urged anyone who may have witnessed such abuse at the hands of carers, or is aware of such abuse taking place, to "pick up the phone, drop a note".

"The HSE, with their vulnerable adults policy actually does work on anonymous tips."

Ms Lynch added that she was "amazed" that despite HIQA's recommendation that 400 hours of additional training be carried out by staff at the facility following an inspection, the abuse still occurred.

"I do believe that the type of behaviour we saw last night would be impossible for HIQA to see, because when that knock comes on the door, it is very easy for these people to change their behaviour."

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She told RTE's Morning Ireland that she is "convinced" that installing CCTV cameras in care homes in the best way to crack down on abuse.

"I am convinced at this stage, as I have always been, that when it comes to protecting vulnerable people, nothing should be about us. RTE did it and it wasn't illegal, why should it be illegal for the HSE?"

This sentiment was shared by HIQA's Director of Regulation and Chief Inspector of Social Services Phelim Quinn, who added that the authority's concern is also focused on the almost 1,000 designated centres dotted around the country.

He denied that HIQA had failed in the case of Aras Attracta, but admitted that while staff were trained, "the assessment of the impact of that training was not in place".

Chief executive of the Disability Federation of Ireland John Dolan told Newstalk that the residents had been "stripped of their human dignity".

hnews@herald.ie


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