Thursday, 28 October 2004

Ceisteanna (143, 144, 145, 146, 147, 148)

Seán Ryan

Ceist:

142 Mr. S. Ryan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the number of public nursing homes and beds in the country; her views on whether there is a need for an inspectorate to be put in place on a statutory basis similar to the private sector; and if she will establish such an inspectorate. [26566/04]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Health)

As the Deputy may be aware, figures on the number of public nursing homes and beds are collated by my Department on an annual basis. The most recent long-stay activity statistics report was finalised in July 2004 and provides information on activity in long-stay units in 2003. According to the report, there were 12,339 long-stay beds in health board facilities, including respite beds, on 31 December 2003. This figure represents 51.8% of the long-stay bed complement with the remaining 49.2% of long-stay beds being provided in private and voluntary nursing homes. Currently, the inspection of private nursing homes is the responsibility of the health boards under the Health (Nursing Homes) Act 1990. Regulations made under this Act empower health boards to inspect private nursing homes.

The social services inspectorate, or SSI, was established in April 1999, initially on administrative basis though it is proposed to establish it on a statutory basis. The main function of the inspectorate is to support child care services by promoting and ensuring the development of quality standards. While in the longer term the SSI will monitor all personal social services operated by the health boards, it is concentrating initially on the child care area and, in particular, on the inspection of health board operated residential child care facilities. The health strategy, Quality and Fairness, states that the SSI will be established on a statutory basis and its remit will be extended to cover residential services for people with disabilities and older people. Establishing the SSI on a statutory basis will strengthen its role and will provide it with the necessary independence in the performance of its functions. It will also serve to increase public confidence in state and voluntary social services. Consultation with the Department of Finance on the statutory instrument to enable the SSI to be established on a statutory footing is in progress.

Seán Ryan

Ceist:

143 Mr. S. Ryan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the type of problems that are being identified in respect of the inspection of private nursing homes; the action that is being taken to address these problems; the number of court actions pending; and to give details of the nursing homes in question if any. [26567/04]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Seán Ryan

Ceist:

144 Mr. S. Ryan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if she is satisfied that the powers available to the inspectors of nursing homes are adequate to guarantee health and safety of the residents, generally old people and the closure of nursing homes if deemed necessary. [26568/04]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Seán Ryan

Ceist:

145 Mr. S. Ryan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if she is satisfied that the Nursing Home Act 1990 in respect of inspections of private nursing homes is being implemented; if the statutory requirement of two inspections per year is being met; and if not the reason therefor. [26569/04]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Seán Ryan

Ceist:

146 Mr. S. Ryan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the need for an independent inspectorate of nursing homes; and if so when does she propose to establish such a body. [26570/04]

Amharc ar fhreagra

I propose to take Questions Nos. 143 to 146, inclusive, together.

As the Deputy will be aware, the inspection of private nursing homes is the responsibility of the health boards and the Eastern Regional Health Authority under the Health (Nursing Homes) Act 1990. As the information requested by the Deputy is not routinely collated by my Department, the chief executive officers of the health boards and the authority have been asked to provide the information. It will be forwarded to the Deputy as soon as it becomes available.

Seán Ryan

Ceist:

147 Mr. S. Ryan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the fact that there is a waiting list of up to 12.5 years for public nursing beds in some regions of the greater Dublin area; and to indicate the way in which she proposes to deal with the problem. [26571/04]

Amharc ar fhreagra

I draw the Deputy's attention to the reply given to his parliamentary question of 22 June this year. Funding of €20.6 million provided by my Department to the Eastern Regional Health Authority under the delayed discharges initiative has to date facilitated the discharge of 518 people from the acute hospital sector to private nursing homes and their own homes.