Minister for Health Simon Harris has said the controversy over extra charges levied by some private nursing homes must be tackled quickly.

Speaking at the Nursing Homes Ireland annual conference, he said nobody wants to see a scenario where older citizens or their families are left worried in relation to this matter.

The minister said that the trust private nursing homes members build up with residents, families and communities is vital and cannot be damaged.

He said the Department of Health will work with Nursing Homes Ireland to develop steps to tackle this issue. 

Mr Harris said it needs to result in real and quick progress.

He said the last number of months have been marred by much commentary and concern regarding extra charges.

NHI Chief Executive Tadgh Daly described the controversy as a "storm in a tea cup".

He said the charges were for services provided to residents for things not covered by the Fair Deal scheme.

Mr Daly said homes seek to provide residents with a range of services and these are set out in standard contracts and families are also given a booklet outlining these matters.

The NHI said: "Fair Deal’s definition of long term residential care services specifically excludes services that are provided to persons in nursing homes to enhance their health and wellbeing.

"Excluded in this regard are services that include, for example, social programmes, physiotherapy, occupational therapy and other health and social care services.

"These services are essential to support living and healthcare requirements of older persons in nursing home care, as recognised within the national standards and regulations, and are provided in all nursing homes."