Written Answers. - Nursing Home Subventions.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

244 Mr. J. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of people who have been put on a waiting list for an enhanced nursing home subvention in the Southern Health Board area; the reason the health board is not in a position to deal with these applications; the length of time a person (details supplied) in County Cork has been awaiting a decision; and if the necessary resources will be supplied to ensure that a decision can be arrived at. [3022/03]

Under the Health (Nursing Homes) Act 1990, health boards provide subventions to assist persons in meeting the costs of nursing home care. However, it was never intended that subventions would meet the full costs involved. The current rates are €114.30, €152.40 and €190.50, depending on the dependancy of that person, be it medium, high or maximum. Apart from contracts entered into under article 22.3 of the Nursing Home (Subvention) Regulations, 1993, which allows a health board enter into an arrangement with a private nursing home, the placement of a person in a private nursing home and the fees charged is a private arrangement between the nursing home and the individual resident. Article 22.4 also permits the health board to pay more than the maximum rate of subvention, in cases where, for example, personal funds are exhausted. There are currently 500 people in the Southern Health Board in receipt of such enhanced subventions, with a further 526 people waiting for their applications to be assessed. Each health board has to fund each application for subvention and enhanced subvention from the budget assigned to it by my Department.

In 1994, the first full year of the scheme, it cost €15.192 million to run the scheme. This year the cost of the scheme is over €110 million. In 2003, the Southern Health Board received an extra €1.054 million to meet the additional pressures on the scheme. As responsibility for the administration of the nursing home subvention scheme in Cork rests with the Southern Health Board, my Department has asked the chief executive officer of the board to investigate the individual case raised by the Deputy and reply directly to him.