How a personal experience has challenged a family’s trust in Northern Ireland’s Department of Health and Social Care – By David David McNarry 

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You will recall the concerns that the community experienced when it was speculated that as many thousands of people could die from Covid-19.

Imagine how one felt the following day, as the next of kin to a resident in a care home received a call from the home manager saying this:

“The G.P. has asked me to ascertain that should your loved one be taken into hospital with Covid-19 symptoms, are you content that the G.P. notifies the hospital of your consent to a DNAR notice“.

The phone call, its origin and bluntness in raising the issue of DNAR (do not attempt resuscitation) is a clear illustration that the Health Service was very aware of care home residents and potential threat to lives. Why then did officials appear not to put in place a strategy to minimise loss of life – such as a ring of steel around homes rendering them sterile areas backed up by rigorous security and medical measures?

What I write courtesy of this website implies no criticism of those for whom I warmly clap at 8 pm each Thursday. They are not to blame for the loss of the lives of our most vulnerable  who ended up exposed to the killer disease Covid19. My full barrel is aimed at those who should be repudiated today and not at some later stage when time will have blunted the edge of the scandal which has cost so many lives in Care Homes.

Regrettably people in care homes are not considered part of society. It took the coronavirus emergency to expose that care homes were excluded from the Health Service priorities. Did not one single person in the Assembly and the Executive apparatus catch on that care homes had been abandoned?

Are the public seriously being asked to believe that it took a public outcry to force those in authority to face up to the  horror that  emerged over a sustained period covering 9 weeks? How can it be explained that no one in the Health Department, that no Minister, Permanent Secretary, Medical Expert, or Special Advisor asked, “are care homes included in the Covid-19 information gathering, and did no one ask, what was the risk factor for care home residents and staff?”

Is that the awful truth? Or did someone ask and said nothing when they knew the truth.

Or has the Assembly been wilfully mislead and deceived? If so why are those culpable in the deception still at their desk?

So when are you entitled to query, “when is an outrage not an outrage?” Is it so, when the perceived shameful neglect of care homes is laid bare? Why were the figures of those dying in care homes not reported daily? Here is my challenge… was the reason because the damning figures revealed a shocking headline number – that 50% of the total death toll is attributed to lives lost in care homes? For what other reason were these figures being kept from the public, vital information pertinent to the care homes and to those whose relatives and loved ones were resident in those homes? Where is the apology? Where is the explanation ? What is the awful truth?

Kate Spicer, journalist, who has a younger brother with learning disabilities wrote a heart rending article in the Mail on Sunday, May 10th. “Very little attention has been paid to the scandalous treatment of some people with learning disabilities who, have been pronounced by some GPs as unfit for resuscitation should they require it. Even at the best of times, people with learning disabilities take second place to other members of society. These decisions by GPs. were based on Covid-19 advice issued on March 21  by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) using a device known as the Clinical Frailty Scale.” Kate Spicer quotes Paralympian Baroness Grey – Thompson describing it all, as  “simplistic utilitarianism (that) would erode the moral and social conscience of our country.” Spicer says “in other words, adults with a good chance of recovery-but who happen to have learning disabilities – were being condemned because they require a certain level of support care. They were being told to ride out the infection even if that meant they died.”

Hopefully after reading this, you might better understand why I feel as do many others (in silence) that perceivably all citizens in care homes have had their dignity and yes their human rights abused by possible neglect by those in charge of our Health Departments.

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