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“Resumption of ‘Fair Deal’ welcome but why was it suspended?” – Ó Caoláin

9 June, 2011 - by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD

Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has criticised the handling of the ‘Fair Deal’ crisis by Health Minister James Reilly. While welcoming the Minister’s announcement that the approval of applications under the scheme would resume on 13 June, Deputy Ó Caoláin questioned why it was deemed necessary to suspend approvals in the first place. Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

“After the funding shortfall for the ‘Fair Deal’ nursing home care scheme came to light in the middle of May, approvals of applications under the scheme were suspended. Why was this deemed necessary? What did the suspension of those approvals achieve apart from causing distress to older people and their families?

“There are some 500 older people in acute hospital beds, older people who should be in nursing homes or receiving proper State-supported care in their homes or in the community. This is in a public hospital system that is stretched to the absolute limit.

“As of January this year, over 1,600 acute and continuing care public hospital beds are closed, mainly due to cutbacks and staff shortages. So the knock-on effect of this crisis in the care of older people is very far-reaching. The longer this situation drags on the worse the bed shortage in our already over-stretched hospitals will become.

“On top of all this we have the deplorable revelations about the ill-treatment of people in the Rostrevor Nursing Home in Rathgar.

“Minister Reilly has avoided answering questions on the ‘Fair Deal’ crisis in the Dáil chamber, while making selective statements to the media.

“Sinn Féin did not support the legislation establishing the ‘Fair Deal’ scheme. It is a move away from universal entitlement. It is not rights-based. It is not comprehensive in terms of providing for the wide range of care that older people require. It is no substitute for comprehensive State-provided care of older people including fully supported and resourced care in their homes, in the community and, where necessary, in nursing homes.”

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