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Written Answers. - Health Board Payments.

Wednesday, 6 February 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 547 No. 4

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 135. Mr. Noonan Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan  asked the Minister for Health and Children Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin  his plans to standardise the subvention payments across the country; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that some health boards operate a topup system, whereby subvention payments can be augmented in certain circumstances; his views on whether a standardised system operated nationally would be fairer to those applying for subvention; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3719/02]

Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Martin): Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin As the Deputy is aware, a health board may pay more than the maximum rate of subvention relative to an individual's level of dependency, for example in cases where personal funds are exhausted. This is on foot of the Nursing Homes (Subvention) (Amendment) Regulations, 1996, introduced in 1996 and which added Articles 22.3 and 22.4 to the Nursing Home (Subvention) Regulations, 1993, permitting health boards to contract beds in private nursing homes and to pay more than the maximum rates of subvention in such cases. However, the application of these provisions is a matter for the individual health board concerned in the context of meeting increasing demands for subventions within the board's revenue allocation as notified annually in the letters of determination. This is in keeping with the provisions of the Health (Amendment) (No. 3) Act 1996.

As the Deputy will be aware, in line with a Government decision, an expenditure review of the nursing home subvention scheme has been undertaken by my Department in association with the Department of Finance. It is the intention to develop proposals in relation to whatever additional measures may be necessary arising from the expenditure review, the Ombudsman's report, together with experience gained from the operation of the scheme since its inception in 1993.

In the meantime, I remind the Deputy that funding for the nursing home subvention scheme has increased significantly in recent years. When this Government came to office in 1997, the funding for the scheme was £27.8 million €35.30 million, while £52 million €66.03 million, was made available for 2001 while in 2002, the funding for the scheme has again been substantially increased, amounting to £72 million €91million.

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