Byline: Simon Creer
IT had been intended to provide better care for the elderly and to free up hospital beds.
But eight months after the roll-out of the Government's Fair Deal plans, as many as 5,000 pensioners in need of residential places are still not being supported.
The scheme first began last October, offering subsidised care in nursing homes. Since then, 10,000 have applied for assistance but only half have received the go-ahead, according to Nursing Homes Ireland, the umbrella group for the industry.
Many elderly patients are languishing in hospital taking up acute care beds while they wait for their assessments.
Some 883 beds are occupied by patients ready for discharge and a further 764 inpatient beds are lying closed around the country, an increase of 333 on last year.
Jan O'Sullivan, Labour health spokesman, said there were too many pensioners taking up acute hospital beds they didn't need because they could not move to a residential home.
And tough rules could force many nursing homes out of business, according to Nursing Homes Ireland.
Operators say that while the National Treatment Purchase Fund is trying to drive down the cost of care to the exchequer, new standards set by the Health Information Quality Authority are pushing up the cost to the homes. …