‘Health care system failed to clarify rights’

OMBUDSMAN Emily O’Reilly branded HSE care for the elderly as chaotic, ad hoc and confusing during her speech at the MacGill Summer School in Glenties, Donegal.

Ahead of the release of her hard-hitting probe into the health service, Ms O’Reilly said the state was effectively washing its hands of responsibility in this area, although she believed the newly-introduced “Fair Deal” nursing home support scheme would improve things.

The Ombudsman warned the HSE her report would prove uncomfortable reading, saying: “It will tell of a largely chaotic, ad hoc system, in which many people were not alone confused about their rights and entitlements but also suffered years of stress and crippling expense because of the deliberate failure of the system to clarify their rights to public care let alone provide for them.

“I am aware that the new system — the so-called Fair Deal system, the nursing homes support scheme — will make things a lot clearer and a lot better for very many people, but as my investigation will point out, what has effectively happened through the new legislation is that the state believes it has now divested itself of the responsibility to provide nursing home care.”

Health Minister Mary Harney reacted angrily to the Ombudsman’s comments. Her spokesman accused Ms O’Reilly of making “prejudicial remarks with the suggestion that the Fair Deal scheme encourages creeping privatisation”.

Ms Harney also expressed concern the Ombudsman was publicly speaking about a report yet to be released and which she, the minister, had only seen extracts of.


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