Thursday, 30 June 2011
Dáil Éireann Debate
47. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health if he will restore confidence by outlining, the way the funding through the fair deal scheme will be provided; the amount over the coming years through the fair deal scheme thata will be allocated in view of the fact that private nursing homes are needed to complement our existing community hospitals. [17863/11]
Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Kathleen Lynch): The processing of approvals for financial support under the Nursing Homes Support Scheme re-commenced the week beginning the 13th June. Approvals are being issued to those applicants processed to final stage in the chronological order in which they were received in the Central Office in Tullamore. Approvals are currently being issued to the first 400 of these applicants. Funding is being assigned on a daily basis. There are approximately 700 further applications processed to final stage and now awaiting approval and these will be dealt with as a priority.
The key focus of the Minister for Health is to ensure that those who require nursing home care will be able to access it and, to this end, the Department estimates that almost 24,000 people will be in long-term nursing home care by year end. This would mean a net increase of around 1,700 people between now and the end of the year.
In order to fund this increase, and to offset other pressures on the subhead such as increases in average length of stay, cost increases etc., the Minister identified a range of savings and income sources, one of which is a potential saving of up to €30 million in non-service related spending. This funding will come primarily from capital spending which is running significantly behind budget so far this year. Funding for the scheme in future years will be determined in the context of the estimates process.
The Programme for Government commits us to review the system of financing nursing home care with a view to developing a secure and equitable system of financing for community and long term care. This commitment will be carried through.
In addition, the Nursing Homes Support Scheme is due for formal review commencing in 2012. The Scheme will be three years in operation at that stage. The reason for allowing this period to elapse is to ensure that established and validated trends and statistics will be available in order to inform this work. It is still intended to proceed with this review and it will look at the ongoing sustainability of the Scheme, the relative costs of public versus private provision and the balance of funding between residential and community care.
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