A Fianna Fáil TD has said that he will be reviewing his support for the Government unless the Department of Health provides more money for elderly people in nursing homes. Thousands of people who cannot afford nursing home care on their own receive health board subventions to subsidise the cost.
Opposition politicians claim that the Department of Health has failed to honour a promise to provide increased subsidies to elderly people who cannot afford nursing home care. Deputy for Cork North Central, Noel O'Flynn, says that he will be considering his support for the Government unless the Department of Health pays the increased subsidies to the country's health boards over the coming weeks.
In Cork and Kerry, the Southern Health Board has ceased paying "enhanced subventions" because it says the Department of Health has failed to provide adequate funding. In 1998, the Department of Health changed the regulations for the payment of these subventions, and this led to more people qualifying for increased payments.
Opposition TDs claim that although the Department changed the regulations to make it easier for people to qualify for higher subventions, it then failed to provide the necessary funding. It is not only opposition politicians who are angry about this.
A spokeswoman for Health Minister, Mícheal Martin, said this evening that there was a conflict about the interpretation of regulations for the nursing home subvention scheme. This was currently being considered by the Departments of Health and Finance, she said, and their findings should be available to government within a fortnight.