Written Answers. - Nursing Home Subventions.

Michael Ring

Question:

69 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Health the extent to which private nursing homes throughout the country are awaiting payments from their respective health boards in regard to subventions; when all outstanding moneys are likely to be paid; if provision was made for such requirements in the current year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [974/94]

Austin Deasy

Question:

75 Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for Health the degree to which each health board has sufficient funds to meet subvention requirements for elderly patients in private nursing homes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1002/94]

Avril Doyle

Question:

125 Mrs. Doyle asked the Minister for Health the extent to which he expects health boards to be in a position to meet the total number of applications for subventions towards elderly patients in private nursing homes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1007/94]

Austin Deasy

Question:

130 Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for Health the number of patients in each of the health boards who have sought health board subventions towards maintenance in private nursing homes in 1994; the number of patients who have been successful in their applications; the numbers still outstanding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1005/94]

Question:

168 Mr. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Health if he has satisfied himself that the £4 million expended as subvention to patients has been well spent; the additional number of patients being subvented; and his views on increases levied by private nursing homes since the increased allocation has been put in place. [259/94]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 69, 75, 125, 130 and 168 together.

The purpose of the subvention scheme provided for by the Health (Nursing Homes) Act, 1990, is to ensure that dependent persons most in need of nursing home care will have access to such care. From 1 September 1993, the time the Act was commenced, to 31 August 1994, 7,019 applications had been received by health boards for a nursing home subvention. Of this total, 3,136 have been approved. Of the remaining applications, 1,422 have been refused and the balance are either being processed or have been withdrawn.

The breakdown of applications by health board is given in the table which follows.

Figures in relation to the number of additional persons to benefit under the new arrangements will not be available until the end of the year.

In 1993, £4 million was made available to commence the Nursing Homes Act. In 1994 a total of £9 million has been committed so far for the implementation of the Act. I am satisfied that in respect of the number of persons in receipt of the new subvention, the choice of nursing homes which the scheme allows and the increase in the average rate of subvention, from approximately £50 a week to £81 a week, that expenditure made available to implement the Act represents good value for money.
All of the health boards have paid invoices for subventions from nursing home proprietors up to 31 August 1994, with the exception of some homes which have yet to provide tax clearance certificates or are having difficulties with registration. My Department is currently in consultation with the health boards regarding expenditure subvention to the end of the year and I am confident that all boards will be in a position to meet their liabilities under the Act.
As Minister for Health, I do not have responsibility for the regulation of the fees charged by nursing homes. While the Nursing Homes Act gives new powers to health boards to enforce high standards of care and welfare in nursing homes, it respects in full the private or voluntary ownership and management of those homes. I am aware that the requirements of registration under the new Act have imposed additional costs on a number of the 386 homes which have applied for registration under the Act, but it is necessary in the interests of dependent older people that all nursing homes conform to acceptable standards of care.
Total number of applications for subvention under Nursing Homes Act, 1990, by health board (to 31 August 1994.

Eastern Health Board

2,219

Midland Health Board

393

Mid Western Health Board

1,070

North Eastern Health Board

525

North Western Health Board

346

South Eastern Health Board

812

Southern Health Board

753

Western Health Board

901

Total

7,019