Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Questions (60)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

60. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Health further to Topical Issue No. 2 of 4 April 2019, the reason his reply indicated difficulties in recruitment of healthcare assistants was due to pay scale and not due to lack of availability in view of the fact that private nursing homes do not receive an equivalent National Treatment Purchase Fund, NTPF, rate; and if comparative NTPF rates for all nursing homes, private, voluntary and public will be supported [27955/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Over the last two years, an additional €45 million has been provided to NHSS budget for the continued provision of services in line with competitive pricing and demand.  As outlined in the HSE's National Service Plan for 2019, the NHSS is expected to support 23,042 people in 2019. The NHSS budget for 2019 is €985.8m which is an increase of €24.3m over its 2018 budget.

The National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) negotiates and agrees maximum prices with registered private and voluntary nursing homes for each private and voluntary nursing home who wishes to be an approved nursing home for the purposes of the Scheme. The NTPF has statutory independence in the performance of its function, and negotiates with each nursing home on an individual basis. Separately, under Sectiion 33 of the Nursing Homes Support Scheme Act 2009, provision is made for the HSE to make charges in respect of long term care services. The provision sets out that charges shall not exceed the cost incurred by the HSE in relation to the provision of such care services. There are no plans to amend the legislation in this regard.

The nursing home sector has raised concerns in relation to staffing, particularly with regard to securing access to appropriately qualified staff. On foot of these concerns nursing home providers have requested the removal of health care assistants from the ineligible list of permits issued by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation to bring in workers from outside of the EEA. The representatives of the nursing homes sector have been advised that there needs to be a clear demonstration that recruitment difficulties are solely due to shortages and not to other factors such as salary or working conditions. The sector has been advised that more evidence is required of the labour shortages and to demonstrate full engagement with the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection in relation to recruitment of healthcare assistants from within the EU in the first instance. On provision of this evidence by the sector this matter may be considered further.

Work Permit doc