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NI care home inspections 'must not be scaled back again'

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Keith Gray

Keith Gray

Stephen Hamilton

Keith Gray

Health bosses must not reduce care home inspections again in the event of a second Covid-19 surge, it has been warned.

Keith Gray, whose 73-year-old mum is a care home resident, took a judicial review against the decision to scale back inspections of care facilities during the height of the crisis.

The case was settled out of court this week after the Department of Health told Northern Ireland's health watchdog to resume its normal inspection routine.

The Department of Health has not provided any assurances that the work of the RQIA will not be restricted again if a second surge comes.

Mr Gray said: "I will be right back to the High Court if they try and reduce care home inspections again. There are some very good care homes out there, but I spent 20 years as a care assistant and I know how the system works.

"You never see a home cleaner or better-run than when there is an inspection and I have no doubt that standards dropped in a lot of homes when the inspections weren't happening."

Mr Gray also raised concerns over the rationale for scaling back visits by RQIA inspectors during the pandemic while care homes were being asked to admit residents who had been diagnosed with Covid-19 - a controversial policy which has been heavily criticised by experts.

Mr Gray called for family members of care home residents to be part of the new RQIA board.

On the discharge of patients with Covid-19 into care homes, the Department of Health said: "At all times the priority has been to place patients in the most appropriate setting, be that in hospital or otherwise, to care for their particular needs."

Belfast Telegraph