Does Sinn Fein think that cost matters?

Comment – SF’s comments below are pathetic blatherings because there
is no analysis of costs, no evaluatioon of details of every decision
taken, no solution to the gap in care costs between the public and
private sectors, so call to investigate in detail those differences,
no call to detail the sort of care that is considered a proper
standard irrespective of the ownership fo the buildings! Just as well
I am busy at medicine or I could be a nuisance to both sides. Reilly
is a privateer and the others substitute reason for spluttering
emotional spleen. The latter gets you no where.

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Closure of over 1,200 public nursing home beds criticised

PAUL CULLEN Health Correspondent IT

ABOUT 1,200 beds in public nursing homes have been closed since the
Government came to power, according to new figures supplied by the
Health Service Executive.

The cuts were criticised yesterday by Sinn Féin and trade union Siptu,
who both accused Minister for Health James Reilly of favouring private
care of older people over public facilities.

They coincide with mounting concern among policymakers over the future
needs for residential care caused by an ageing population. Earlier
this week, a report found that every day for the next decade an
additional seven people would need long-term residential care. The
number of over-85s in the population will more than double over the
next decade.

There has also been a slowdown in the provision of private nursing
home beds due to uncertainty about funding and difficulties in raising
bank finance.

Sinn Féin health spokesman Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, who obtained the
figures from the HSE, said the situation was even worse than he had
anticipated.

“With over 1,200 public nursing home beds taken out of the system over
a 20-month period, and with further bed closures signalled, we are
certainly facing a crisis in services for older people,” Mr Ó Caoláin
said.

He accused Dr Reilly of “burning the candle at both ends” by imposing
savage cuts on home help hours and homecare packages while at the same
time closing down public nursing home beds and diminishing the
capacity of long-stay public residential facilities.

“This Minister has no strategy or plan to protect our public health
services and even less regard for the needs of older people,” he said.

Siptu spokesman Paul Bell accused the Government of abandoning public
nursing care and said a situation where 75 per cent of beds were
provided by the private sector was “unbalanced”. He called on the Dáil
Public Accounts Committee to investigate the costs of the Government’s
strategy of “divesting itself of responsibility for care of older
people”.

According to the HSE, 443 public nursing home beds were closed this
year up to August, while 758 were closed last year. A further 112 beds
have been identified for closure later this year.

Bed closures include 230 in HSE South region, 199 in
Dublin/North-East, 322 in West and 450 in Dublin/Mid-Leinster.

The HSE attributed the closures to service plan commitments, staffing
reductions and the inability of some homes to meet compliance
requirements of the Health Information and Quality Authority. It said
a number of new public long-stay beds have come on stream in new units
in Cork, Navan, Dublin, Tralee and Mullingar.