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. Apart from arrangements 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 are a private arrangement between the nursing home and the individual resident.
In line with a Government decision on value for money reviews between March 2000 and April 2001, an expenditure review of the nursing home subvention scheme was undertaken by my Department in association with the Department of Finance. The purpose of this review was to address, inter alia, the following issues: the operation of the nursing home subvention scheme and the extent to which current objectives are being met; the efficiency, effectiveness and equity implications of the current subvention scheme; the need and likely future demand for, and supply of, private nursing home care; and optimal funding arrangements for long-stay care; the major policy questions for the future.
It is the intention of my colleague, the Minister for Health and Children, to bring proposals to Government in relation to whatever additional measures may be necessary arising from this expenditure review, taking into account the Ombudsman's report, together with experience gained from the operation of the scheme since its inception in 1993.
Nonetheless, I would like to remind the Deputy that funding for the nursing home subvention scheme has increased significantly in recent years. When this Government came to office in 1997, the funding for the scheme was £27.8 million. By 2000 that figure had risen to £38.479 million. An additional £14 million has been made available for 2001, bringing the total available for the scheme this year to £52 million.