Wednesday, 9 May 2001
Dáil Eireann Debate
164. Ms McManus asked the Minister for Health and Children the positing regarding repayment of outstanding arrears due to persons under the nursing home subvention scheme, arising from the ombudsman's report; if forms are now available for applications for repayments; the documentation which will be required for claims; when health boards will be provided with the revenue to allow repayments to be made; and the expected average amount of the repayments. [13115/01]
The Report of the Ombudsman into the nursing home subvention scheme identified a number of issues relating to the operation of the nursing home subvention scheme. It is the intention of my colleague, the Minister for Health and Children, to bring proposals to Government in relation to whatever additional measures may be necessary arising from the ombudsman's report, the expenditure review of the subvention scheme, together with experience gained from the operation of the scheme since its inception in 1993.
Our immediate priority is to ensure that the two aspects of the regulations that have the most direct impact on nursing home patients and their families are fully addressed without delay. Arrangements have already been made to enable nursing home patients and their families who may be due payments arising from the provisions in the regulations relating to the retention of one fifth of the rate of non contributory old age pension for personal use to be refunded speedily.
The provision which allowed for the assessment of the capacity of the adult sons and-or daughters of older people who applied for nursing home subventions to contribute towards the cost of their parents' nursing home care was deleted from the 1st January, 1999. As the Deputies are aware, it has been decided that moneys should be paid to those who were adversely affected by this provision. It is anticipated that these payments will cost in the region of £6 million.
A group representing the Department, the health boards and Eastern Regional Health Authority has been established to ensure this process is carried out on a uniform basis as speedily as possible. However, as the Deputy will appreciate, this will be a complex exercise involving, inter alia, difficult issues of traceability, and it may take some time to complete. Nevertheless, I can offer assurance that every effort will be made to make payments as quickly as possible.
In relation to the case raised by Deputy Finucane, as the provision of health services in the  Limerick area is a matter for the Mid-Western Health Board, I have asked the chief executive officer of the board to investigate the case and respond to the Deputy as a matter of urgency.
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