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Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Pension Deduction for Hospital Treatment.

Tuesday, 28 June 1966

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 223 No. 9

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Mr. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan Zoom on Richie Ryan asked the Minister for Health whether a health authority may oblige a pensioner who is the holder of a general medical services card, or the authority paying the pension to such person, to pay to the health authority all or part of such pension while the pensioner is hospitalised; if so, the statutory or other authority for such action; and, if not, if he will issue a directive to health authorities not to engage in such practice.

Minister for Health (Mr. O'Malley): Information on Donogh O'Malley Zoom on Donogh O'Malley In accordance with the provisions of the Health and Mental Treatment Acts, institutional services must be made available without charge for the persons specified in subsection (2) of section 14 of the Health Act, 1953. A person who holds a general medical services card would be regarded, as long as his name remained on the general medical services register, as covered by subsection (2) of section 14.

However, in the case of a holder of a non-contributory old age pension who is detained in a public mental hospital, under the provisions of section 8 of the Social Welfare (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1960, the pension is appropriated towards the cost of the patient's maintenance. In such circumstances, however, the person-in-charge of the hospital may pay to the patient up to £1 a week, if, in the opinion of the person-in-charge, the patient is capable of making proper use of the money.

I assume the question does not refer to persons in receipt of institutional assistance in county homes or similar institutions. If the Deputy will furnish me with particulars regarding any cases where difficulty has arisen, I shall arrange to have them investigated.

Mr. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan Zoom on Richie Ryan Is the position, then, that persons who are in receipt of any pension or income from public sources, be it from the Irish or the British Government, other than a non-contributory pension, do not have any portion of that income deducted if [1348] they are holders of a general medical service card?

Mr. O'Malley: There are two things: there are institutional services and institutional assistance. If an old age pensioner goes into hospital, he has naturally a medical card and everything is absolutely free and nothing can be taken from him. If he is there for shelter, the position is that I made an order which I circulated to all health authorities whereby of that pension the sum of £1 must be left with the person in receipt of such type of assistance and I also made provision that commitments such as rent, rates, insurance policies, et cetera, must be taken into consideration, to enable, for instance, a person who has to be there for a short time and who may have a dwelling outside will be enabled to keep that dwelling on and pay the rent for it.

Mr. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan Zoom on Richie Ryan The Minister is talking about cases where deductions are made, that is, in respect of non-contributory pensioners in the county home under the Act. I want the Minister to say that any other type of pensioner may not have deductions made. There is the instance of a British widow's pension. Is such a person liable to a deduction?

Mr. O'Malley: Whether British or Irish, under institutional assistance, the circumstances would be exactly the same as I have indicated to the Deputy.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully Come again.

Mr. O'Malley: Whether it is an old age pensioner or not, my interpretation would be the same.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully Surely the Minister is aware that the health authority have a habit of collecting from everybody and thereby lessening the bill, whether they are entitled or not?

Mr. O'Malley: In every health authority I increased the amount which was to be paid to the individual from 10/- to £1 and I added to that a [1349] requirement that if they were paying money for a little room outside, that was to be taken into consideration.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully That is, if they are in for shelter, but what happens if they are in for hospital treatment?

Mr. O'Malley: If they are in for hospital treatment, they are free and there is nothing taken from them. I would love to hear of a case of something being taken.

Mr. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan Zoom on Richie Ryan I took up a case recently with the Minister and £23 has been given back to the widow concerned.

Mr. O'Malley: The Deputy is on the right line.

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