Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Health Billy Kelleher TD says the Fair Deal waiting list crisis could have been avoided. More than 2,000 older people are waiting almost 4 months for a bed in a nursing home because of a funding cap and budget cut implemented as part of the flawed 2014 health budget.
Deputy Kelleher commented, “The current situation with the Fair Deal scheme should not have been allowed to spiral to this extent, and in fact could have been prevented. The 2014 HSE service plan acknowledged that waiting times for a nursing home bed under Fair Deal would increase this year on foot of a decision to divert funds from the scheme to community care and home based care packages.
“The crisis, which has targeted the sickest and most vulnerable older people, could have been avoided by allocating a realistic budget for the scheme instead of re-allocating money to other areas. The Minister knew the impact that this decision would have. The service plan concedes that 700 beds would be lost as a result of the diminished budget and the crisis which has emerged over the past six months was entirely foreseen.
“Minister Varadkar has blamed a budget cap for the crisis, but the reality is his predecessor chose to divert funding for the Fair Deal programme to other schemes. This decision has resulted in more than 2,000 older people languishing on lengthy waiting lists and running up extortionate bills while waiting for a nursing home place to become available.
“This is an unacceptable and avoidable situation and must be remedied as a matter of urgency. It is essential that the full Fair Deal budget is allocated to the scheme in 2015 to prevent the crisis from escalating further”.