Scandal deepens as third strand of government strategy to deny long-stay nursing home repayments revealed at PAC - Matt Carthy TD
The scandal of the strategy of successive governments to deny repayments to eligible nursing home residents under the long-term repayment scheme deepened as a third strand of the ‘cover-up’ was revealed at the Public Accounts Committee by Sinn Féin Deputy Matt Carthy.
While there has been much focus on the residents who were medical card holders in public nursing homes and those who were in private nursing homes, notes in C&AG reports and HSE financial statements from 2009 to 2016, and a secret 2011 memo, show that there was a third cohort comprising of people living in residential disability services operated by state-funded Section 38 and 39 organisations.
Deputy Carthy told the PAC that the appeals officer for the long-stay repayments scheme had adjudicated that these residents were eligible for compensation but the Minister sought to block their payments by appealing to the High Court.
Speaking afterwards, Teachta Carthy said:
“People in Section 38/39 long term residential disability services were informed by the HSE that they were not eligible for compensation under the long-stay repayments scheme. Many did not apply for that reason. A secret government memo in 2011 acknowledges this.
“Some did apply and were again informed that they did not qualify. However, appeals were made in respect of 515 residents of three such homes (St Michael’s House, Cheeverstown House and Daughters of Charity).
“The appeals officer sampled three of these appeals and found that they were, in fact, eligible for compensation under the scheme. Bizarrely, the then government decided to appeal that decision to the High Court.
“We now know, due to the secret 2011 memo issued to government, that the high court proceedings were discontinued when legal advice was clear that the case would be lost. Essentially, this meant that medical card holders in all similar Section 38 and 39 nursing homes were in fact eligible for payments and should have received compensation through the scheme.
“This deepens the scandal of the nursing home repayments. Unlike the case for residents of private nursing homes, whereby government has stated that they were legally permitted to deny payments, in this case the legal position was agreed by government.
“While it seems that payments were eventually made to the 515 appellants, thousands of other people who should have received payments were denied them due to this cover-up and policy of secrecy by government.
“The Public Accounts Committee has sought from the HSE the total numbers affected, including the number of those who applied for the scheme but didn’t appeal, and we will be pursuing this in the coming weeks.
“But, successive Health Ministers and Taoisigh must now clarify the extent of their knowledge of this aspect of the nursing homes scandal and their respective actions in this regard.”
The full Public Accounts Committee engagement can be viewed here: https://youtu.be/z6b-lFYSeNs