Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, Sinn Féin’s Brian Stanley TD, has today published a report on the Nursing Homes Support Scheme (Fair Deal), which orders the HSE to prioritise the implementation of a robust financial oversight of future procurement following serious deficiencies were uncovered during an investigation into nursing home care.
Sinn Féin Deputies Imelda Munster and Matt Carthy Carthy also played an important role in highlighting concerns around charges to residents for medical supplies and services that should be provided free of charge to those with a medical card.
In its report, the Committee recommends that any resident in possession of a medical card has timely access to, and is never charged for, the medical equipment and services that they are entitled to under their medical card.
Speaking at the publication of the report, Laois/Offaly Deputy Brian Stanley said:
“Approximately 550 nursing homes fall under the Nursing Homes Support Scheme, known as ‘Fair Deal’ – 80 per cent of which are operated by private or voluntary organisations and the remainder by the HSE.
“In 2018, Fair Deal supported some 23,300 individuals at an investment of approximately €969 million. This a hugely important scheme which is invaluable to many individuals.
“The Committee is of the opinion that the current lack of an integrated financial and procurement management system is a serious operational deficiency which undermines this investment. We have recommended the implementation of an integrated procurement system is prioritised by the HSe to ensure robust financial oversight, and that the PAC is provided with an annual progress update.
“In the case of charges for patients with medical cards, the Committee recommends that this matter is addressed urgently by the HSE and nursing homes to ensure that the practice of charging residents for items and services, to which they are entitled as medical card holders, can cease with immediate effect.
“In relation to the value for money review, the Committee would like the Department of Health to urgently provide a timeline for the publication of the Value for Money review of the Fair Deal scheme, which was originally due to be published in March 2019 but has yet to appear.
“We would also like to see a review of the 2009 Act which established the Fair Deal scheme, in particular the maximum pricing structure which governs negotiations between the NTPF and the private and voluntary nursing home sector.”