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Respite Care Services

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 3 November 2016

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Questions (150)

Éamon Ó Cuív


150. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Health the reason a person (details supplied) in County Galway has been issued with a hospital bill for respite care; if he will confirm that persons availing of this service are entitled to 30 days respite free of charge; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33235/16]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Long stay charges for in-patient services apply to the further provision of inpatient services, other than acute services and nursing home services in public nursing homes supported under the Nursing Homes Support Scheme (Fair Deal) to persons who have already received at least 30 days of in-patient services during the immediately preceding 12-month period, irrespective of where those 30 days of in-patient services have been received.

Charges for the maintenance element of long stay inpatient services - which may include inpatient respite care services - are provided for under the Health (Amendment) Act 2005 and the Health (Charges for Inpatient Services) Regulations 2005, as amended.

The Regulations provide for two different classes of income-based charges in respect of the maintenance element of the in-patient services provided:

- Class 1 relates to charges for those receiving in-patient services on premises where 24-hour nursing care is provided, subject to a current maximum of €175 per week for a person whose income is €208 or more; and

- Class 2 charges apply where 24-hour nursing care is not provided, subject to a current maximum of €130 per week for a person whose income is €194 or more.

Affordability and the avoidance of financial hardship are built-in features of the charging provisions under the 2005 Act and Regulations:

- Firstly, the Act caps the amount which may be charged – at 80% of the non-contributory State Pension weekly rate. At present, that means an upper limit of €177.60 per week.

- Secondly, the charges are structured to ensure that those paying them retain a reasonable income for personal use: at least €33 per week for those paying Class 1 rates and at least €64 per week for those paying Class 2 rates.

- Thirdly, the Act provides that the HSE may reduce or waive a charge imposed on a person if necessary to avoid undue financial hardship.

To assist in the fair application of the provisions of the 2005 Act and Regulations, the HSE has developed national guidelines for the determination of long-stay charges for inpatient services. These include the need to have regard to the individual circumstances of each service user and his or her dependants. The guidelines ensure that the applicable charge is determined taking account of each person’s income and necessary outgoings while receiving care, including reasonable regular financial commitments. This avoids any unfair burden on the service user or his or her dependants.

As the issue raised by the Deputy relates to an individual case, this is a service matter for the Health Service Executive. I have asked the HSE to look into the particular matter raised and to reply directly to the Deputy. If you have not received a reply from the HSE within 15 working days please contact my private office and they will follow up the matter with them.