Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Health Billy Kelleher has called on the Government to take urgent action to tackle worsening Fair Deal waiting lists. Over the past year the number of older people waiting for a nursing home bed under the scheme has increased four-fold, and now stands at more than 2,000.
The party has put down a Private Members Motion in the Dáil calling on the Government to ensure that the 2015 HSE Service Plan reverses the reduction in support for the Fair Deal scheme, which was implemented in 2014, and to provide adequate resources for long term residential care, taking account of demographic changes.
Deputy Kelleher commented, “In the space of 12 months this Government has allowed Fair Deal waiting lists to rapidly escalate without any genuine efforts to contain the situation. At the end of September last year there were 523 people waiting for a bed under the scheme. The figure for September 2014 stood at 2040 – an almost four fold increase.
“This situation, which is causing untold anxiety and stress for thousands of older people and their families, was completely preventable and could have been avoided if the Government had allocated a realistic budget for the scheme. Instead, €23m was redirected from the Fair Deal programme to pay for other packages leaving a substantial funding gap. Fianna Fáil wants to see that money reinstated and is seeking a commitment from the Minister that the 2015 HSE Service Plan will provide the funds necessary to alleviate these extensive waiting lists.
“Thousands of older people, many of whom are ill, are being subjected to huge nursing home bills while they wait for a place on the Fair Deal scheme. With the average waiting time now standing at 15 weeks, these charges are running into thousands of euros. It is completely unacceptable for the Government to force these people to pay for its flawed decisions. Ministers must take responsibility and address this issue urgently, beginning with a feasible budget for the scheme”.