Irish Nursing Home Whistleblower Files Personal Injuries Case

Photo of the River Liffey in Dublin, Ireland at sunset

A staff member who worked in a nursing home in Dublin, Ireland is “taking a personal injuries case” against the Health Executive Service (HSE), Ireland’s public health services provider.

According to an April 26 article from the Irish Independent, the whistleblower worked at St. Mary’s nursing home in Phoenix Park and “contracted Covid-19 while caring for patients at the facility and subsequently suffered a mini-stroke.” Caoimhe Haughey, who is representing the whistleblower, also confirmed to the Irish Independent that the whistleblower is “separately lodging a claim with the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB) in respect of illness suffered during the course of her work.”

“The thrust of the claim is that we will be claiming negligence, breach of statutory duty on the part of St Mary’s PPU/HSE in exposing our client to the risk of developing Covid and her consequent hospitalisation,” Haughey said in the article.

In April 2020, the whistleblower made a protected disclosure to then-health minister Simon Harris, HSE CEO Paul Reid, chief medical officer Tony Holohan, and the Health Information and Quality Authority, according to the article. The disclosure alleged that the care home, where 24 individuals died of Covid-19, had shortcomings in their response to the pandemic.

After receiving the disclosure, HSE “appointed a three-person review team with an independent chair to examine the allegations made in the 35-page dossier that was submitted,” the Irish Independent reported. The review team met with the whistleblower in July “to confirm and validate an understanding of the nature of the disclosures and examine any supplementary evidences.” At the end of their investigation, the team said they would publish a report on the findings and come to a conclusion about the allegations. However, Haughey said that a year later, there doesn’t seem to be any progress towards a draft of the report. “I feel it’s become a terribly protracted process and we would really like to have seen significant progress at this point,” she said.

However, one factor could be contributing to the delay of the report. According to the article, “some relatives of family members who died in St Mary’s had come forward to corroborate the whistleblower’s claims.” Haughey “acknowledged that statements given by these families had expanded the time-frame of the probe.”

Haughey also told the Irish Independent that “[a]ny money that may result from the claim will go towards legal fees and the Friends of St Mary’s Hospital, a charity that benefits residents/patients at the facility.”

In response to WNN’s request for comment, the HSE said “cannot comment on ongoing protected disclosure. Community Healthcare Organisation Dublin North City and County (CHO DNCC) are cooperating fully with the Investigation Team.”

Read the full Irish Independent article here.

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