PAC Should Interrogate HSE Service Plan, Says Nursing Homes Ireland

Wednesday December 14th: Nursing Homes Ireland has said the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee should widen its examination of the HSE and should investigate the HSE Service Plan to see if its numbers are real.  The PAC has already confirmed its intention to investigate the HSE's cost of public nursing home care in Ireland.

"The just published HSE Service Plan is not reflecting the true cost of nursing home care in its service plan," Mr Tadhg Daly, CEO of Nursing Homes Ireland said,  "The expenditure on Fair Deal is short-changing operators in the private and voluntary sector.  There is unrelenting pressure on the operators, including much State-generated cost inflation.  Yet the HSE makes no provision for this in its 2017 Service Plan.”

“The Service Plan provides increases to address demographic pressures under the Fair Deal, but fails to include provision for increased fees in the private and voluntary sector to address unrelenting State-sponsored cost pressures on nursing home providers”.

“For example, while the plan does acknowledge exceptional cost pressures within disability and acute hospital services, the HSE have not recognised these costs are also a huge cost factor in private and voluntary nursing homes, which require greater funding provision through an increase in fees. The sustainability of the private and voluntary nursing home sector is under constant threat by the failure to address cost pressures and increase Fair Deal Fees.”

NHI has also said it is disappointed the Service Plan has not taken up on an offer by the nursing home sector to partner with the Department of Health, HSE and the Emergency Department Taskforce to manage the winter pressures.

“We have made this offer twice to the Minister for Health, the HSE and the Department of Health.  A survey we have just undertaken shows nursing homes have capacity this winter of up to 1,000 vacant beds. This is the equivalent of creating the capacity of four good-sized hospitals and could play a lead role in facilitating Government’s stated objective of providing care in the community," Mr Daly said. 

"To refuse it once is careless, to refuse it twice is reckless.  On a consistent basis, two-thirds of the hundreds in our hospitals classified as delayed are awaiting long-term nursing care. Nursing homes have the capacity and expertise to provide convalescent, rehabilitative and respite care removed from hospitals and in our communities”.

"Unless the HSE engages in a respectful, partnership approach with the private and voluntary nursing home sector, this winter is going to be the worst ever for trolleys and waiting lists."

The Public Accounts Committee is already looking at the Health Service Executive following publication in October by the HSE of the cost of care in its own-operated nursing homes, following a five-year delay. The published costs highlighted a glaring chasm and discriminatory practice between what the State will spend for care in its own nursing homes and what it will pay for citizens’ care in private and voluntary counterparts.

The published costs revealed the average fee payable to HSE nursing homes is 53% above those payable to private and voluntary counterparts. In some instances, the HSE pays its nursing homes up to seven times the amount payable to private and voluntary nursing homes. The published costs revealed massive inequity in fees payable at county level.

 //Ends

 For more information, contact Stephen Fitzpatrick, Q4PR, 01 475 1444 / 086 087 0501 

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