Dáil Éireann - Volume 602 - 11 May, 2005

Written Answers. - Nursing Home Charges.

  92. Mr. Stanton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if the practice of health authorities holding the pension books of elderly patients to pay for their long-term care has reconvened; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [11893/05]

  Ms Harney: The HSE has reported that where it has been authorised to act as the patient’s agent in relation to dealing with the patient’s pension payments, weekly spending money is paid to each patient and the balance of such patient’s pension is lodged to his-her patient private property account, from where it is accessible to the patient. With regard to the matter of the return of the pension book to patients, it is important that the process of altering the existing arrangements be carried out in an appropriate manner. Accordingly, the HSE has indicated that it is currently issuing a letter to all patients who have authorised it to act as their agent, offering them choices with regard to their pension books, and that arrangements will be made to return the pension books to the patients in question if that is their choice. Some patients may not be in a position to make a decision regarding their arrangements and the process will have to involve the patient’s next of kin. This matter will be dealt with by each nursing home-institution and, therefore, there will be an opportunity to discuss the matter with the relevant local staff.

Patients in long stay units have the choice of having their pension book returned to them at any stage. No long stay charges are currently being levied for eligible patients in respect of in-patient services by the HSE. The HSE has advised that it is not aware of any instance where the practice of health authorities holding pension books of elderly patients has recommenced where patients have requested the return of their pension books.