Bradshaw welcomes Health Minister commitment to learn care home lessons

Alliance Health spokesperson Paula Bradshaw MLA has welcomed a commitment from the Health Minister to learn lessons from the impact of the coronavirus crisis on care homes.

The South Belfast MLA was speaking after Robin Swann announced a £11.7 million financial package for the sector, including funding for sick pay for staff. He added work was ongoing to ensure lessons were learned from the pandemic and implemented.

“The failure to protect our care homes sufficiently during the pandemic is a matter of huge regret, and I welcome the Minister recognising lessons are to be learned,” she said.

“We have also had a welcome acceptance from the Chief Medical Officer mistakes were made. While it does not bring back those whose lives were sadly lost, it does show unlike in England, a fundamental problem with our approach – not just to the pandemic but to care homes in general – has at last been recognised.

“The latest investment in care homes is welcome, although in fact it remains well short of the reform needed – a fact the Minister accepts in his own statement. In Northern Ireland we have a failed system of regulation of care homes, in part because for too long we have not recognised care homes as inherent to an integrated health and social care system.

“As with the overall transformation programme, reform will not be easy but we have seen during this pandemic how vital it is. Never again must we treat care homes as peripheral add-ons to the system. We must now act to make them a fundamental part of our overall healthcare set-up.”