Entire Government must answer for 'Fair Deal' debacle
Commenting on the revelation that the Government's proposed 'Fair Deal' scheme for subsidising nursing home care for older people is now mired in constitutional problems and that €110 million allocated to it is being diverted elsewhere, Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said:
"A debacle is the only word to describe the news that the Government's much-trumpeted 'Fair Deal' for subsidising nursing home care for older people is now mired in constitutional problems. While Health Minister Mary Harney bears primary responsibility, her Government colleagues cannot hide behind her and all of them must answer for this latest shambles in our health and social services.
"In November 2007 nine organisations working with older people joined forces to express their concern at the 'Fair Deal' proposals. They raised the lack of clarity about what older people would be entitled to. They also stated that the scheme was an erosion of the entitlement to state-funded long-term care in public nursing homes, through the state's proposed claim to a proportion of all disposable income, as well as up to 15% of the estate after death. It seems it is this property provision that has caused the constitutional difficulty.
"The Government failed to heed the warnings and now we see €110 million allocated to the scheme being diverted. This is gross mismanagement. Older people in nursing homes or who expect to enter such care are being left in a state of doubt and confusion again.
"Instead of proceeding with this scheme the Government should be moving towards direct provision of care for older people in their homes, in the community and, where necessary, in public nursing homes." CRÍOCH