COVID-19 AND CARE HOME DEATHS: REQUEST FOR AN INQUIRY
KRW LAW LLP is instructed by a number of families who have relatives who are residents in care homes across Northern Ireland.
Today we have written to Robin Swann MLA, the Health Minister, requesting that he propose to the Stormont Assembly the establishment of a statutory inquiry into the Covid-19 pandemic crisis and the rates of death in care homes.
Families are alarmed that there has been a serious failure in decision-making across the relevant statutory bodies regarding testing and inspection for Covid-19 for residents and staff in care homes.
Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) report that there have been 232 confirmed Covid-19 deaths in care homes across Northern Ireland up to 1 May, accounting for 45% of all coronavirus-linked deaths.
Concerns are being expressed about the failings of the Department of Health, the Public Heath Agency and the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority regarding the discharge of respective statutory functions and duty of care which has lead to failings in response to the current crisis and failings in regard to reducing risk of infection and death.
A judge-lead statutory inquiry supported by counsel, with powers to compel witnesses and evidence, unfettered by any political interference and with Terms of Reference drafted in consultation with families, would be a mechanism to allay public concern, provide accountability, and assist in future reforms.
Kevin Winters, Senior Partner, KRW LAW LLP said:
“Given the vicious pace at which this virus spreads this request cannot come quickly enough. These residents are the most vulnerable of all in society yet instead of being prioritised for over sight they are downgraded because they are elderly and already life limited. A statutory inquiry would afford an opportunity for failures to be exposed, accountability to secured and reforms to be proposed.”