Wednesday, 4 February 2004

Ceisteanna (187)

Tom Hayes

Ceist:

278 Mr. Hayes asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the matter of repayment to persons who were liable for payment of their relatives nursing home expenses prior to the changes in the regulations; the criteria persons must meet in order to reclaim the expenses; and if they are liable for outlay on their claim for repayment. [3367/04]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Health and Children)

As the Deputy may be aware, articles 9.1 and 9.2 of the Nursing Homes (Subvention) Regulations 1993 allowed health boards to assess the ability of the adult sons and-or daughters of older people who applied for nursing home subvention to contribute towards the cost of their parent(s) nursing home care. The assessment of the capacity of sons and-or daughters to contribute towards the cost of nursing home care for their parent(s) was discontinued on 1 January 1999.

Although legal advice received from the Office of the Attorney General indicated that there was no legal liability on the State to make retrospective payments, the Minister decided that moneys should be paid, without prejudice, to those who were adversely affected by these provisions. Payments have been made on anex gratia basis and, consequently, costs associated with the taking out of letters of administration or a grant of probate cannot be refunded.

The health boards have endeavoured to identify cases, which would warrant reimbursement as a result of the discontinuance of articles 9.1 and 9.2. To date the vast majority of those involved have been paid. In a small number of cases the boards have been unable to make anex gratia payment because they have been unable to contact the next-of-kin or some people have refused to take out letters of administration or a grant of probate.