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Residents of private nursing homes charged for medical products and services despite having full medical card – Munster

24 January, 2019 - by Imelda Munster TD

Sinn Féin TD for Louth and East Meath Imelda Munster has called on Tánaiste Simon Coveney to address ongoing issues in private nursing homes, where residents are being forced to pay for therapies that they are entitled to free of charge as medical card holders.

Deputy Munster said:

“These elderly citizens are holders of full medical cards, and are therefore entitled to basics like wound management dressings,  physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech and language therapy free of charge. I am aware of many private nursing homes charging residents for these services.

 “This is despite the fact that under the Nursing Homes Act 1990, as amended by Section 16.1 of Statutory Instrument 227/1993, medical card holders are entitled to these therapies and services free of charge, in the same way that their counterparts living in the community are.

“It has been brought to my attention that some residents or their families are receiving monthly, strongly worded letters, seeking payment for these therapies. When family members have complained they have been told to go elsewhere if they don’t like the charges. This is totally unacceptable. These nursing homes are the homes of these residents, and those who live there must be respected, and we must ensure that they are given full access to their entitlements as medical card holders.

“Is it the case that private nursing homes contracts are given supremacy over the law of the land?

“If so, then this is a matter of serious concern. The government must respect and protect these residents, many of whom are elderly, in poor health and are therefore vulnerable citizens.”

The Tánaiste responded that this may be a ‘contractual and management issue’ for the nursing homes, and, even more shockingly, admitted that was not aware of the situation and will have to follow up.

Deputy Munster said:

“The law of the land is clear on this. It is the responsibility of government to ensure that the law is upheld. I will be in contact with the Tánaiste and the Minister for Health to ensure that this matter is dealt with.

“It’s not good enough for government to turn a blind eye to this blatant discrimination of rights and entitlements.”

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