PRIVATE nursing home owners are to sue the Health Service Executive for not paying money owed to them for contracted beds.
The owners, all members of Nursing Homes Ireland, claim the health authority has refused to pay annual increases due to them.
The organisation’s chief executive, Tadhg Daly, said there was an agreement between the HSE and individual nursing home owners on an annual cost of living increase, together with an agreed formula for the computation of the increase.
They claim the money owed under the arrangement is considerable — the HSE paid less than what was due under the formula last year and there were indications that this year’s fee increase may not be paid.
The legal action being taken was outlined at the launch of Nursing Homes Ireland’s campaign — Don’t Make a Bad Situation Worse — in Dublin yesterday.
Mr Daly said a combination of failures by Health Minister Mary Harney and the HSE was making life even more difficult for those in long-term care and their families.
He referred to cuts in subventions to older people; the delay in introducing the Fair Deal scheme to fund nursing home care; the refusal of the HSE to move older people from acute hospitals to nursing homes and setting the proposed registration and inspection structure at punitive and disproportionate levels.
The campaign is demanding increased investment in long-term care and the immediate enactment of the Fair Deal scheme.
Ms Harney recently indicated that the scheme, which will allow people to pay for their care through their property after death, would be introduced by next September.
The organisation also wants a licence fee structure no greater than a third of that in the North where it is about e50 per bed, to reflect the lower investment in long-term care in this state.
Mr Daly said the e190 fee proposed by Ms Harney was outrageous and that it was too much to expect the cost to be passed on to residents.
He said that the local and European elections would give members, older people and their relatives an opportunity to express their frustration and anger.
A statement later released by the HSE said the health authority and nursing home proprietors were in constant communication and “dialogue” in relation to well established contractual arrangements.
It insisted that it provided the owners with an opportunity to consult with the authority on all issues related to residential care.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved