The commitment by Fine Gael to complete the review of the Fair Deal Scheme within two weeks has been welcomed as a major relief to the Irish public by Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Health, Billy Kelleher TD. Speaking during a national radio discussion Fine Gael’s Dr. Liam Twomey TD responded to a question about the length of the review by saying, “Hopefully that will be done in a week or two to be honest, it has to be done that quickly.”
Responding to those remarks, Deputy Kelleher said. “This will come as a major relief to the Irish public as up to now this was seen as a process that could be open ended. There is a lot of fear amongst thousands of Irish people about how this review will impact them and their families.”
“The stealthy implementation of the review and the freezing of funding approvals took a lot of people by surprise. There is a lot of concern that this would take many weeks or months to complete given the complex nature of the scheme. However thankfully Fine Gael has categorically said it will be completed by the time the June Bank Holiday weekend comes about.”
“Already hundreds of people and their families all over the country have been impacted by this decision to freeze funding approvals, so the Minister needs to act quickly to address this problem. Knowing that all holdups should be resolved in a couple of weeks will certainly help people get a handle on how they should deal with this issue and whether they will need to start dipping into their personal finances to pay for care.”
Deputy Kelleher has also called on Minister Reilly to detail when he became aware of the issue surrounding funding for the scheme, after it came to light that the briefing document provided to the Minister when he took office highlighted this problem.
“Minister Reilly has indicated he only became aware of the issue around the Fair Deal Scheme in recent days. Yet the briefing document he was provided with when he became Minister in March clearly states – “The HSE was allocated €6m additional funding for the Fair Deal Programme. It has now indicated that the additional funding has been fully utilised to deal with new applicants under the scheme, but that it is now at the point where it cannot accept any new applicants unless existing capacity becomes available”.”
“Taking this into account I think we need to get a full and frank account from Minister Reilly about when he was told about the Fair Deal scheme funding issues, what meetings and discussions he has held on this subject, why it has been suggested that he has only become aware of this matter in recent days, when he decided to undertake a review of the Fair Deal scheme and when it was decided to have the HSE write to hospitals outlining their decision to freeze funding approvals while the review was undertaken.”
“Thousands of people have been impacted by this review and it is subject of major public interest. The Minister owes it to the Irish people to start being a lot more upfront about what is going on in his Department and how he is tackling this issue,” Deputy Kelleher concluded.