Crisis in funding for Fair Deal will exacerbate overcrowding in acute hospitals, says Nursing Homes IrelandTuesday April 16, 2019
Today’s report of a funding crisis in Fair Deal has been inevitable since its budget for the year made provision to marginally increase the numbers funded by the scheme. The HSE Service Plan for 2019 projected a 91 person increase over the course of 12 months in the number of people to be funded by the scheme. The crisis is an ongoing consequence too of a failure to plan for our growing older population, according to Tadhg Daly, CEO of Nursing Homes Ireland.
The Government needs to move quickly to a decision to increase funds for Fair Deal, Otherwise it will create massive waiting times for Fair Deal which will knock on to hospitals that will not be able to cope with overcrowding.
If this isn’t addressed immediately by the Government, it will mean great hardship for older people and their families as they wait longer than four weeks to access a bed under the Nursing Home Support Scheme. It will exacerbate delayed discharges, which are a lead contributor in the record overcrowding numbers in our hospitals. This is a classic case of history repeating itself. Four years ago, when the Taoiseach was Minister for Health, older people had to wait months to access a bed under the nursing home support scheme because of targeting of the Fair Deal budget. However, instead of saving money, the increase in Fair Deal waiting times ended up costing the health service millions of euro extra every week because of additional delayed discharge costs. Waiting lists went through the roof with hardship for patients and their families.
Given that the Taoiseach saw this first-hand four years ago when he was Minister for Health, he shouldn’t let another Minister for Health create the same problems and should intervene. It is as incomprehensible as always that one side of the Department of Health says it wants to do something about delayed discharges, while another side of the same Department is looking at delays in discharges due to Fair Deal funding. This makes no sense. Equally it makes no sense for the Department not to have an agreed long-term strategy with the sector for residential care in private and voluntary nursing homes.
Tadhg Daly, NHI CEO, is available for further comment. Contact Michael McGlynn, NHI Communications & Research Executive at 01 4699806 or 087 9082970.