Thursday, 10 February 2005
Dáil Eireann Debate
59. Mr. Morgan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if her Department is monitoring compliance with her directive to health boards of December 2004 that charges do not apply to qualifying elderly persons in residential care; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that charges continue to be imposed; if her directive applies until such time as the Supreme Court rules on the constitutionality of the Health (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2004; her contingency if the Bill is struck down; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4192/05]
Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children (Ms Harney): The position is that, following legal advice from the Attorney General on the matter, my Department instructed health boards on 9 December 2004 to cease imposing any financial charges from that date on fully eligible people in receipt of public long stay inpatient services. With effect from 1 January 2005, under the Health Act 2004, the Health Service Executive has responsibility for the delivery of health services. My Department is in contact with the executive about monitoring the implementation of this instruction to cease to impose charges to qualifying elderly patients. The executive has this week advised that it is not aware of any instances where charges continue to be imposed on qualifying elderly persons.
The Deputy will appreciate that the Health (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2004, which was passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas on 17 December 2004, provides, among other things, for a statutory framework for the imposition of charges on all persons to whom long stay in-patient services are provided, irrespective of their eligibility status. The President referred the Bill to the Supreme Court for a decision on its constitutionality. The position with regard to charges for long stay care will become clearer once the Supreme Court’s decision, which is due shortly, on the constitutionality of the Bill becomes available.
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