Responding to Minister Varadkar’s announcement of extra funding for the Fair Deal and tackling the trolley crisis, Fianna Fáil Health spokesperson Billy Kelleher commented: “Fianna Fáil has repeatedly called for more places under the Fair Deal scheme and I am glad these calls have been heeded. Today’s announcement has been a long time coming from this government but it is to be welcomed.
“The Fair Deal waiting list crisis, which has impacted the sickest and most vulnerable older people, could have been avoided with a realistic budget for the scheme throughout 2014 and the first three months of this year. The truth is the 2014 HSE service plan took 700 beds out of the Fair Deal scheme and the crisis which emerged was entirely foreseen as was the severe impact on our Emergency Departments.
“Initially for 2015 the HSE had only restored 300 of these places with Minister Varadkar blaming a budget cap for the crisis, but the reality is that the Minister set the cap lower than it was in 2013.
“The fact is that today’s announcement is a clear indication that Minister Varadkar did not deliver a ‘realistic’ budget last October.
“We believe that the number of residential places must be increased where necessary and the commitment to an extra 1,600 places is welcome but it also must be maintained and improved upon in future budgets. It’s important to remember that the 2014 Fair Deal target was 1,702 beds less than the 23,763 nursing home beds which were being funded in late 2013.
“Today’s announcement by Minister Varadkar is in addition to the €25 million announced last winter. It is newly allocated funding but I suspect some of it has already been spent and that it will not be sufficient for the rest of the year.
“We need to hear from the Minister when a supplementary estimate will be brought forward. When questioned on this a few weeks ago the Taoiseach said that it was ‘not proposed to have a supplementary budget’ for health but I assume an additional €74 million in funding requires the approval of the Select Committee on Health.”