The Government is failing older people by refusing to put in place a credible plan to ensure state run nursing homes adhere to HIQA accommodation standards, according to Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Health Billy Kelleher.

Deputy Kelleher pointed out that Minister for Health Leo Varadkar has refused to prioritise the upgrading of state run nursing homes, a decision which could result in the closure of thousands of beds across the country.

“State run nursing homes are facing a full blown crisis as a result of Minister Varadkar’s continued inaction. HIQA made it clear in 2013 that the HSE needed to put in place a detailed plan to improve facilities so that state run nursing homes adhere to new safety regulations. Unfortunately this has not happened,” said Deputy Kelleher.

“There are a large number of state run nursing homes across the country which needs significant investment to bring them up to standard. However the upgrading of nursing homes has not been given priority status by Minister Varadkar, despite the prospect of mass bed closures being on the cards.

“Minister Varadkar does not seem to recognise the seriousness of this situation. He has failed to plan for the changing demographics in Ireland whereby more and more older people will need access to adequate nursing home care. The HSE is unable to provide necessary bed capacity as it stands, and the closure of state run nursing homes will undoubtedly lead to a crisis in our health service.

“The Government needs to address this issue as a priority. There is no evidence of any engagement between the Department of Health and the HSE on this matter to date. Minister Varadkar needs to set out just how exactly he intends on bringing state run nursing homes up to standard. Any further delays will result in elderly people not having access to the care that they need, and will ultimately lead to mayhem in the health service.”