Information Commissioner’s decision vindicates demand for greater transparency and accountability from HIQA- O’Dowd

-   Fergus O'Dowd TD

The Information Commissioner has annulled HIQA’s decision to deny a Fine Gael TD information on how it dealt with nursing home complaints.

Louth TD Fergus O’Dowd said the Information Commissioner’s decision vindicated his demand for greater transparency and accountability from HIQA as to how they investigated 680 unsolicited nursing home complaints and what the outcomes were.

The authority previously refused to release any details of how they dealt with the complaints to Deputy O’Dowd under the Freedom of Information Act.

HIQA has now been ordered to make a fresh decision on releasing the information requested to the TD.

Deputy O’Dowd revealed last week that for the last three years no nursing home complaints were forwarded by HIQA for investigation to the Ombudsman despite an existing obligation for the watchdog to do so.

Deputy O’Dowd said: “Now that a fresh decision from HIQA has been ordered by the Information Commissioner, I am very confident that I will get to the truth of this matter.

“I also met with the Ombudsman Peter Tyndall at his request following my revelation last week that for the last three years no nursing home complaints at all were forwarded by HIQA for investigation to  the Ombudsman despite the existence of a memorandum of understanding between them to do exactly that.

“Following our meeting, the Ombudsman Mr. Peter Tyndall met with HIQA and HIQA has now  agreed to forward directly to the office of the Ombudsman all appropriate unsolicited Nursing Home complaints received by them for investigation with the consent of the complainant.

“This is a very welcome development and long overdue. In 2017 alone there were almost 700 unsolicited complaints- some of which expressed great concern and worry at the deaths of residents, physical abuse, sexual abuse and financial abuse.

“Many of these complaints are very disturbing indeed and needed independent investigation and effective and appropriate action.

“Nursing home residents and their families will undoubtedly be very reassured by this decision.

“We also urgently need a formal memorandum of understanding between HIQA and the Gardai so that all possible criminal investigations arising can commence and soon as possible.”

ENDS

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