Written Answers. - Nursing Home Subvention Scheme.

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

99 Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for Health and Children the terms of reference of the review being carried out on behalf of his Department in relation to the nursing home subvention; the plans, if any, he has to increase this subvention in light of the increasing cost of nursing home fees; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10270/00]

A series of expenditure reviews on various Government programmes are being undertaken by the Department of Finance in association with the relevant Departments. The aims of the review process are: to provide a systematic analysis of what is actually being achieved by expenditure in each programme; and to provide a basis on which more informed decisions can be made on priorities within and between programmes.

An expenditure review on the nursing home subvention scheme commenced in March, 2000 and is scheduled to be completed by December, 2000.

Under the Health (Nursing Homes) Act, 1990 the 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.

There are three rates of subvention payable, £70, £95, £120, in accordance with three levels of dependency, medium, high, maximum. The amount of funding allocated to supporting older people in private nursing homes has been significantly increased by this Government in recent years. For example, over £5 million in additional funding has been allocated in the current year to provide for an increase in the number of people in receipt of subventions, their higher levels of dependency, resulting in more people receiving the higher rates of subventions, and the change in the regulations whereby the ability of adult sons and/or daughters over 21 years of age to contribute, is no longer taken into account. The amount made available for the scheme this year is £38.4 million.
My priority is to ensure that health boards have adequate resources to meet increasing demands. The question of increasing the rates of subvention will be kept under review in light of the availability of funding and competing priorities.