Lessons have not been learnt from pandemic in absence of Covid inquiry – Staines

Lessons Have Not Been Learnt From Pandemic In Absence Of Covid Inquiry – Staines
Professor Anthony Staines said Ireland is not taking the opportunity to learn from our response to Covid-19. Photo: PA Images
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Vivienne Clarke

Lessons have not been learnt from the Covid-19 pandemic in the absence of an inquiry into the State's response, public health expert Professor Anthony Staines has warned.

"We're not taking the opportunity to learn from what happened with our own pandemic response," he told Newstalk Breakfast.


"We did some stuff that was really good and we made some serious mistakes. Right now, God forbid, if another pandemic started next week, we are not one step further forward being ready for it.

"We need to learn from what went right and what went wrong with Covid, so whenever this happens again, I hope it won't be for many, many years, but whenever it happens again, we need to have a national response in place," he said.

Prof Staines was responding to a call from Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín for Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly to urgently convene an independent inquiry into the cause of excess deaths in the State.

It comes after it was revealed to Mr Tóibín that the number of excess deaths for each month in the last year were higher than the average number of deaths during the three years prior to the Covid pandemic.


Prof Staines pointed out that there had been two European sources of data, which were telling different stories.

He explained the issue is the different ways of measuring data, adding that it is not acceptable that "we don’t know what is going on".

He said this is important because Ireland is spending over €20 billion on health services, and the health service is currently looking for an extra €2 billion.

"We're spending an enormous amount of money on health services, but we're not getting the information we need.

"Every organisation in business does a great deal of work to understand what it's doing, who's watching it, who's using their services. We're not doing that in this enormous business of healthcare, and as a result, the way we've designed our health care system isn't working terribly well," Prof Staines added.

He also highlighted that there is still a lot of Covid in circulation, which is resulting in "relatively small numbers of deaths because we have vaccines".

He stressed that the vaccines are making an extraordinary difference, however, he said the health service is still "bursting at the seams".

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