30 Sep 2020, 16.37

The Committee of Public Accounts (PAC) will meet tomorrow, Thursday, 1 October, at 10.15am in Committee Room 3 of Leinster House to examine the recent special report by the Comptroller and Auditor General on the Nursing Homes Support Scheme (Fair Deal).

Chaired by Deputy Brian Stanley, the Committee of 13 Deputies will hear from the C&AG, Seamus McCarthy, and officials from the Department of Health and the Health Service Executive (HSE).

The Department of Health will be represented by Colm O'Reardon, Acting Secretary General; Kathleen MacLellan, Assistant Secretary, Social Care Division; and Niall Redmond, Principal Officer, Social Care Division.

The HSE will be represented by Paul Reid, CEO; Anne O Connor, Chief Operations Officer; Stephen Mulvany, Chief Financial Officer; and Ultan Hynes, Head of Service, Nursing Homes Support Scheme.

Deputy Stanley: “This is our first public engagement and the Committee believes the C&AG’s special report on the Nursing Homes Support Scheme is the right place to begin our business. Fair Deal has been operating for 10 years and since the C&AG’s report raises important matters, we believe now is the right time to examine how it operates.”

He said that in 2018 the HSE provided financial support to just over 23,300 individuals in almost 550 nursing homes across the country at a cost of €969million, while the HSE estimated that an additional €343million was paid to nursing homes in residents’ contributions.

Deputy Stanley said: “In 2015 the Department of Health recommended that the National Treatment Purchase Fund, which negotiates with the nursing homes on the Fair Deal Scheme, carry out a review of its negotiating systems and procedures and the transparencies around these. That report has not been published.

“In terms of the nearly €1billion that the taxpayers put into Fair Deal it is important that we see value for money around the delivery of services to service users. We also have concerns around the level of extra charges for services in private nursing homes.”

He added: “The C&AG made a number of recommendations in his special report and the Committee would like to examine what is happening in relation to these recommendations. Members look forward to engaging with the officials from the Department of Health and the HSE on this important and timely report.”

PAC is a standing committee of Dáil Éireann which focuses on ensuring public services are run efficiently and achieve value for money.

The meeting in Committee Room 3 can be viewed live on Oireachtas TV.

Committee proceedings can also be viewed on the Houses of the Oireachtas Smartphone App, available for Apple and Android devices.

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