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Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Mental Handicap Treatment.

Tuesday, 18 October 1966

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 224 No. 10

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48.

Mr. Clinton: Information on Mark A. Clinton Zoom on Mark A. Clinton asked the Minister for Health if institutional treatment is now free for people suffering from mental handicap; and, if so, if there are any local authorities who are not carrying out their obligations in this regard.

Mr. S. Flanagan: Information on Seán Flanagan Zoom on Seán Flanagan Persons suffering from mental handicap, in so far as institutional treatment is concerned, are [1404] dealt with under the general legislation in connection with the health services. The services are provided free of charge for persons in the lower income group and their dependants and for pupils of national schools where the defect is discovered at school health examinations. Apart from the school children mentioned, as regards persons in the middle income group and their dependants, the services may be provided free or at a charge not exceeding 10s a day and as regards persons outside the lower and middle income groups if, in the opinion of the health authority, they would be unable without undue hardship, to provide the services needed for themselves or their dependants, they also may be given institutional services free or subject to a charge.

I understand that where there is provision for a charge, health authorities, in determining the amount of the charge, or whether to impose any, take into account the long-term nature of the service which has to be provided for most mentally handicapped persons. Thus, where a health authority might feel justified in charging the maximum of 10s a day for a short-term illness, it would adjust that charge, or remit it altogether, where the need for the service continues over a long period. Of the mentally handicapped patients maintained in the special institutions all but six per cent are health authority patients. The revenue collected by health authorities, in respect of patients for whom they accepted liability, in a recent year works out at an average of slightly less than 7d per day per patient.

If any cases are brought to my notice where the requirements of the law are not being observed, I will be glad to look into the matter.

Mr. Clinton: Information on Mark A. Clinton Zoom on Mark A. Clinton Is the Minister aware that a statement made by his predecessor in the Department of Health has given rise to the widespread belief that the services for all mentally handicapped people are free and that many of the relatives are refusing to pay now as a result of that statement? Furthermore, is he aware that county councils [1405] are also digging their heels in because they are acting according to the law?

Mr. S. Flanagan: Information on Seán Flanagan Zoom on Seán Flanagan I want to make it clear that, where adults are concerned, they are entitled to free service.

Mr. Clinton: Information on Mark A. Clinton Zoom on Mark A. Clinton Are all mentally retarded adults entitled to free service, regardless of their incomes?

Mr. O'Malley: Yes. Was that the statement?

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully Is the Minister aware that some mental hospitals are applying to old age pensioners for the old age pension book to be sent on to them immediately? Is he aware that that is the situation at present?

Mr. S. Flanagan: Information on Seán Flanagan Zoom on Seán Flanagan If the Deputy will put down a question about it, I will answer it.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully The Minister need not be smart. He either knows or he does not.

Mr. S. Flanagan: Information on Seán Flanagan Zoom on Seán Flanagan If the Deputy will put down a question, I will deal with it.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully If the Minister does not know something about it, he should know.

Mr. Clinton: Information on Mark A. Clinton Zoom on Mark A. Clinton I want to clear this point: could the Minister say why, in the case of a child, the income is taken into consideration and, in the case of an adult, it is not? Can he give any reason why that is so?

Mr. S. Flanagan: Information on Seán Flanagan Zoom on Seán Flanagan Did the Deputy read the reply? The average is worked out at slightly less than 7d. per day per patient. If the Deputy knows of any case——

Mr. Clinton: Information on Mark A. Clinton Zoom on Mark A. Clinton I do.

Mr. S. Flanagan: Information on Seán Flanagan Zoom on Seán Flanagan ——will he let me know about it and I shall deal with it?


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