The Government has been accused of sending mixed messages over funding for state nursing home care.
With a report on a €100m shortfall due in less than a fortnight, Sinn Féin accused Taoiseach Enda Kenny, health minister James Reilly and health chiefs of contradicting one other.
Party president Gerry Adams claimed the Fair Deal scheme was not taking new applications or processing older ones, leaving elderly people distressed.
“There are people out there who are being prevented from taking up vacant nursing home places. There are people who at the moment cannot get final approval who are being given 24/7 care by their families and friends and others who are on hospital beds in an already hard pressed hospital system,” he said.
“There are still scared people out there deeply distressed who need assurances from this Government.”
Mr Reilly has called on the Health Service Executive (HSE) to account for the €100m shortfall in funding for the scheme.
The Taoiseach said the Government, health bosses and elderly people and their families would all have a clearer idea of how many people could be taken into care after the two week investigation was complete.
“The reality is that this is a budget capped scheme,” he said.
“I’m quite sure you don’t expect that final approval is going to be given for any scheme if there is not money there to give it.”
Sinn Féin claimed that the central computer system used by the HSE to process applications had been shut down for more than a week.
Mr Adams claimed that the HSE should continue to process applications for nursing home beds while the investigation was ongoing.
“The Government is always very clear about the big people in this society, the big bankers, the big states – always very, very clear about what you are doing,” he said.
“But when it comes to the small people, when it comes to the people – it could be our parents, it could be us in 10-15 years’ time – the Government is not clear.
“There are totally contradictory messages coming from the health minister, the HSE and the Health Department and from you Taoiseach.
“That needs clearing up and what you need to say, if you don’t mind me putting words in your mouth, is that this scheme will recommence immediately.”
Fair Deal began in October 2009 to provide financial support for people needing long-term nursing home care.