New figures released to Fianna Fáil TD for Longford-Westmeath Robert Troy reveal that there are over 2,182 older people languishing on waiting lists for up to four months because of HSE funding delays in the Fair Deal scheme.
The data was provided to Deputy Troy at last week’s Oireachtas Health Committee meeting with the Minister for Health.
Deputy Troy commented, “It’s completely unacceptable that the delays in Fair Deal funding are allowed to continue. Thousands of older people, many of whom are ill, are being subjected to huge bills because of major flaws in the system. The cost of nursing home care can run into the thousands on a monthly basis, and now older people are being expected to pay these fees while they wait on a list. This is creating a major financial burden for them and their families, and should not be allowed to continue.
“Since July, not only have the waiting times have increased, the number of older people on waiting lists has jumped from 1,465 to 2,182 (on October 15th). The average waiting time for a Fair Deal place is now 15 weeks, which will see older people and their families run up costs of around €15,000. If no nursing home places are available, it increases the pressure on families, who may end up having to care for their loved one for an extended period of time.
“The shortcomings of last year’s HSE Service Plan are being felt right across the sector, and the substantial delays in Fair Deal funding are one of the starkest examples of its failure. The 2014 Plan diverted €23m from the Fair Deal budget and into community and home based care packages. This has left a considerable gap between those who will benefit from those initiatives and those who are waiting for a nursing home bed. These people are now trapped on waiting lists for months, while being expected to pay for a service that they cannot afford.
“Older people should not be forced to subsidise HSE deficiencies, yet that it exactly what is happening. This is another example of the Government’s derisory attitude towards the sick and the elderly. This situation cannot continue. It is causing untold and unnecessary stress and anxiety for older people and their families. Minister Varadkar must ensure that the 2015 HSE Service Plan, which is due to be published next month, addresses this issue as a matter of urgency”.