Department of Health takes almost nine months to reply to MLA’s query

Jim Allister has hit out at the “incredible” delay to answering one of his Assembly questions.

Thursday, 19th August 2021, 7:08 pm
Updated Thursday, 19th August 2021, 7:13 pm
TUV MLA Jim Allister

He had asked the Department of Health in early December of last year, “why patients discharged from hospital to private homes are not tested for COVID-19, while those who are discharged to residential and nursing homes are tested prior to discharge”.

Only now has he received a response, and “even then, the question asked is not adequately answered, with no explanation for the disparity raised and certainly no apology for the incredible delay”.

He said: “It is not so much the quality or content of the Question which is key, but the cavalier attitude of departments to the important issue of Assembly scrutiny... Clearly there is an endemic problem which this Executive has not the will to address.”

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The question and answer follow:

AQW 11585/17-22 from Mr Jim Allister (TUV - North Antrim)

Tabled: 04/12/2020, to be answered by 21/12/2020

To ask the Minister of Health why patients discharged from hospital to private homes are not tested for COVID-19, while those who are discharged to residential and nursing homes are tested prior to discharge.

AQW 11585/17-22 Written Answer

“All patients admitted overnight into hospital are tested for COVID-19.

“Patients who test negative for COVID-19 on admission are also subject to a further single re-test conducted between 5-7 days after admission to hospital. COVID-19 testing is also carried out on patients who require surgery during their hospital stay.

“Care home settings are distinct from other settings in that they are enclosed environments and have a specific and particular risk profile.

“The purpose of testing patients in advance of discharge from a hospital setting to a care home is to support providers and staff in the receiving care home to understand each resident’s COVID-19 status, and to enable care homes to effectively plan for each resident’s care needs.

“For patients discharged from hospital to their own home, it is important that they follow the advice provided by the hospital in relation to their specific discharge arrangements.”

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