Fair Deal waiting lists ‘unacceptable’

The increasing number of elderly people waiting to hear if they have been cleared for the Fair Deal scheme is unacceptable, the Dáil heard.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin raised the issue as he said waiting lists for the a nursing bed home under the initiative had more than quadrupled this year to stand at 2,114 by October — and decisions were taking nearly four months to come through.

“In January, 512 were awaiting funding, and there was a four-week waiting period for approval. In April, there were 913 waiting, with a six-week waiting period for approval. In June, 1,465 were waiting and it took 12 weeks to obtain approval.

In October, a whopping 2,114 were awaiting funding and approval took 15 weeks,” Mr Martin said.

He branded the situation a “scandal”.

“The Taoiseach will provide hundreds of millions of euro in tax relief and present that for political reasons, but is there any social conscience at the heart of Government at all, given that the sickest and most vulnerable older persons in society are left waiting for 15 weeks before they will get approval?

“Their families are anxious about it. Thousands of euro are being paid by families in some instances,” Mr Martin said at leaders questions in the Dáil.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the situation was a challenge and a review of Fair Deal was under way to look at future financing. However, he admitted the budget for the initiative had been cut to €939m, but stressed that Fianna Fáil had spent heavily on the health service during the boom without solving underlying problems.

The Taoiseach said that the number of approvals was increasing month by month.


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