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Written Answers - Care of the Elderly

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 755 No. 1

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 228.  Deputy Catherine Byrne Information on Catherine Byrne Zoom on Catherine Byrne  asked the Minister for Health Information on James Reilly Zoom on James Reilly  the special delivery unit funding that has been allocated to St. James’s Hospital, Dublin 8; if this funding is being used to facilitate elderly persons moving into nursing homes while they await the outcome of their application under the nursing home support scheme; the person who is responsible for administering this funding in the hospital; the way patients’ families may apply to be considered under this scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7348/12]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on James Reilly Zoom on James Reilly During the last quarter of 2011 the SDU sought proposals from hospitals for measures that could be taken to avoid excessively long delays for large number of patients waiting in Emergency Departments. This initiative initially concentrated on hospitals that were contributing most to the overall problem and was later extended to all hospitals which had patients waiting. It was in the context of the extended initiative that the focus came on St. James’s and in particular to delays in the discharge of patients who have concluded the acute element of their illness and were ready for discharge.

Based on a proposal received from St James’s, the SDU approved a maximum of €140,000 for the transfer of 35 patients from the hospital to Private Nursing Homes on a short term basis for a period of 4 weeks in December 2011 subject to having every effort made to achieve best value for money.

This approval was subject to a range of specific conditions including that the hospital was to select patients in respect of whom an application for Fair Deal was already made, and was to liaise with the HSE in respect of each application.

[208]It was made clear that this funding was approved and would be released only in the event of all the requirements being met. That is to say that the funds could not be used for any other purpose than set out in the proposal and that all conditions attached to the funding had to be adhered to or it would be withdrawn and/or reclaimed. The hospital was obliged to continue these measures from within its core funding for January 2012 as necessary to meet agreed ED targets. Any capacity increases funded through this mechanism could not be offset by reductions elsewhere. Funding under the initiative has been disbursed to the HSE which is responsible for payments to the providers.

This was a once-off initiative designed to increase bed capacity at the hospital over the busy Christmas and New Year period so the issue of applications for inclusion at this stage does not arise. A total of 23 patients were transferred from St. James’s Hospital to nursing homes under the initiative at a total cost of €99,268.

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