The owners of the Beaumont Residential Care home in Co Cork have announced this evening that they are leaving the Fair Deal scheme.

Families of relatives at the nursing home held a protest over the situation at the constituency offices of Tánaiste Micheál Martin today.

The families said they were seeking urgent help to ensure "the residents are not discriminated against and forced out onto the street".

Earlier this month, the owners of the Beaumont Residential Care home, part of the CareChoice Group, told families that the home was under "extreme financial pressure" because of a shortfall between the funding it receives from the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) and the actual cost of providing care to residents.

About 50 family members took their message to the Tánaiste's office

The home, which is not closing, has more than 70 residents - 56 under the Fair Deal Scheme.

It had originally planned to withdraw from the scheme by the end of this month but that had been pushed back another month in the hope of securing higher NTPF payments.

However, in a statement this evening, Beamont Residential Care said the home "has now left the Fair Deal scheme as a result of the actions and inactions of the NTPF".

Anne Rogers' mother Bríd is a long-term resident at the nursing home.

Families want urgent action to ensure 'the residents are not forced out onto the street'

She said the families protesting today outside the Tánaiste's constituency office are seeking his urgent help to ensure "the residents are not discriminated against and forced out onto the street".

Ms Rogers said they were prepared to protest for as long as it takes and plan to write to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar pleading with him "to show empathy and understanding of our plight today and in the future, to support the funding to allow the residents to remain in their home".

She said they were informed by management last week that Fair Deal nursing home residents receive €738 less per resident per week than HSE nursing home residents.

Concerned families of relatives at the Cork nursing home were protesting today

Speaking on RTÉ's News at One recently, CareChoice Chief Executive Stuart Murphy described the Fair Deal scheme "as discriminatory".

He said in the past nine months, they have received an increase of €16 on average for residents at the Cork home, while a publicly run nursing home nearby has received an increase of €183.

Mr Murphy said they currently receive €1,085 per resident per week under the Fair Deal Scheme, but said each patient typically costs them €1,270.

In the statement this evening, Mr Murphy said: "This is a very difficult and sad day for the Fair Deal residents who reside in the home and also for their families.

"Over the last seven months we have tried to persuade the NTPF, HSE and Department of Health to engage with us in relation to the chronic underfunding of caring for the fair deal residents in the CareChoice Group including Beaumont Residential Care but there has been no meaningful engagement.

"More recently we have tried our very best to persuade the HSE and the Department of Health to fund the cost of caring for Fair Deal residents in Beaumont Residential Care outside of the Fair Deal scheme.

"Given the unwillingness of the Dept of Health to find a solution to the funding of the Fair Deal residents in Beaumont Residential Care we have advised the Fair Deal residents that they can continue to reside in the home for the next month without facing any additional charges.

"During this month CareChoice will continue to advocate to try ensure that the Fair Deal residents can remain in their home," added Mr Murphy.

In a statement, the NTPF said: ''Under Section 41 of the Nursing Homes Support Scheme Act 2009 (the "2009 Act"), the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) is the designated body to agree maximum prices with private and voluntary nursing homes for the purpose of the Nursing Homes Support Scheme (NHSS).

"As part of this function, the NTPF will enter into Approved Nursing Home Agreements with registered nursing homes to record the maximum price(s) that have been negotiated.

"The NTPF does not comment on its negotiations with individual nursing homes."