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Bradshaw: It’s clear Minister ‘blind-sided’ on board resignations

Alliance MLA Paula Bradshaw has questioned why it took so long for the Health Minister to get up to speed with the extent of frustrations within the watchdog responsible for oversight of care homes, which led to the resignations of all board members earlier this week.

She said: “While I am glad the Minister didn’t hide from what is a shambolic situation, his answers have left me and people in the wider community with even more questions.

“I cannot understand how the Minister was seemingly blind-sided by these resignations, despite email chains showing those within his department where aware of problems with the board as far back as April.

“We are now in a situation where the board responsible for the oversight of our care homes has disappeared overnight – and there is still no clear line on the way forward or who will be fulfilling those roles at this time.

“Care homes have been at the centre of the Covid-19 pandemic and the Health Committee already had concerns around how the RQIA was functioning.

“Confidence among the public around the regulation of care homes was already very low, and nothing that happened in the Assembly this afternoon will have restored it. I would recommend an initiative be set up urgent to learn quickly from the mistakes made in our care homes during the pandemic, followed by work to ensure the full independence of the body regulating care homes free from Departmental interference."