Dáil Éireann - Volume 461 - 14 February, 1996

Written Answers. - Nursing Home Subventions.

75. Mr. Ferris asked the Minister for Health if he intends to review the levels of nursing home subvention rates which have not been index linked since 1993; if his attention has been drawn to the increased charges being notified recently by private nursing home owners; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3317/96]

Minister for Health (Mr. Noonan, Limerick East): The subvention scheme which accompanied the Health (Nursing Homes) Act, 1990 came into operation on 1 September 1993 and ensures that those most in need of care in a nursing home, and without the means to pay for it, receive assistance towards the cost. In 1995 approximately £15 million was expended on the subvention scheme and a further £16 million has been allocated for 1996.

The current levels of subvention are among the various aspects of the scheme which have been examined by a working group, comprising of officials of my Department and the health boards, which has reviewed the operation of the Nursing Homes Act. I understand that the group has finalised this report and I expect to receive it in the near future.

I have no responsibility as Minister for Health to control or regulate the fees charged by nursing homes which are private or voluntary enterprises. While the Nursing Homes Act gives new power to health boards to enforce high standards of accommodation and care in nursing homes, it respects in full the private or voluntary ownership and management of nursing homes.