Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Health, Billy Kelleher TD has slammed Minister for Health James Reilly over his decision to freeze the Fair Deal funding for people entering nursing homes. Deputy Kelleher has learned that all allocations for funding are currently on hold while the Department for Health undertakes a review of the programme.
The Fair Deal Scheme was set up to provide financial support for people needing long term nursing home care. The idea behind the scheme was that long term care should be affordable and that a person should receive the same level of State support whether they choose a public, voluntary or private nursing home.
“This is a scandalous action by the Government and it shows the rank hypocrisy that is seeping out of Minister Reilly,” said Deputy Kelleher. “Basically the Government has decided to freeze all allocations on the Fair Deal programme while the Minister has asked the Department to undertake a review of the scheme. This is despite funding of €1 billion being ringfenced for the scheme.”
“That means that anyone who is currently in hospital and has been assessed as needing long term nursing home care is now stuck in limbo. They won’t be approved for the scheme while this review is undertaken. Instead they are left in the hospital, filling a bed while they await a decision that now has an indeterminate timeline.”
“There are people all over the country who are on the scheme or waiting to get on the scheme who are now really worried about what happens next. Some are afraid that their family home may now be seized to pay for their nursing home care. This is the kind of panic that the Minister has spread by his actions.”
“What’s worse, instead of calming public fears and outlining what they have planned, the Government didn’t tell anyone about their decision to freeze the funding approvals and begin a review of the scheme. Instead people are finding out through health officials and other channels about this. It’s the worst kind of way to treat and inform worried members of the public.”
“This Fine Gael/ Labour Government has made great hay and received very favourable media coverage from their claims that they will be open and transparent in how they go about their business. Well what excuse have they for ordering this review, putting the scheme funding on hold and then causing ripples of fear around the country about the future of the programme. Minister Reilly and the Government have exposed themselves as rank hypocrites in how they have handled this issue. It is yet another example of arrogance on the part of the Minister.”
“Implementing this review by stealth is an underhand tactic and the Government knows it. Basically they didn’t even acknowledge this issue until I raised it twice in the Dáil under the Order of Business. When were they going to let the public know? The Government should be ashamed on how they have handled this.”
“Their decisions are impacting on the most vulnerable people, the elderly and sick of the country who need long term nursing home care. It shows that the Minister and his Government are more concerned about numbers than they are about people. I am calling on him to reverse the freeze immediately and to allow Fair Deal funding to be provided where required while the review is being undertaken,” Deputy Kelleher concluded.