Dáil Éireann - Volume 608 - 25 October, 2005

Written Answers. - Nursing Home Regulations.

  224. Mr. Bruton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the rules governing the operation of patient accounts in public nursing homes; the action taken in respect of outstanding balances in such accounts in the event of the death of a patient to refund this balance to the family concerned. [30036/05]

  Ms Harney:The Health Service Executive administers a patient private property account system to manage the private money of patients in long-stay care. Previously, different health boards employed various methodologies for the administration of accounts depending on legal advice received by different boards as to how they should operate.

Following the establishment of the HSE, clarification was sought from senior counsel as to the precise relationship that should exist between the HSE and patients in its care and to put in place one standardised system for the operation of these accounts. This legal advice was received by the HSE in September of this year and led to the establishment of a multidisciplinary working group on patient private property accounts. The working group was established to ensure the administration of these accounts: meets all legal and regulatory requirements; operates in the best interests of patients in as responsive way as practical; takes appropriate account of, in so far as is practical, the input of patients relatives and friends; is consistent with best practice in terms of financial controls, transparent accountability and corporate governance arrangements; and is efficient and represents value for money in the use of staff and HSE resources.

Following the death of a patient there is a legal obligation on the HSE to ensure any funds held on behalf of the patient are preserved for the beneficiaries of the patient’s estate. In circumstances in which a patient has made a will and the executor obtains a grant of probate, the HSE releases any funds remaining in the patient’s property account to the executor. In circumstances in which the patient has died intestate and a grant of administration is obtained by his or her personal legal representatives, the HSE releases any funds remaining to the administrators who would normally be a surviving spouse or next of kin. Where a patient dies intestate and there are [842] no next of kin, as defined in the succession Acts, the State is the ultimate successor and any funds in the patient’s private property account are transferred to the Chief State Solicitor’s Office.

Question No. 225 answered with Question No. 218.