Plan to extend free GP Care welcome but addressing crisis in older person care must be prioritised


Extension of free GP care to over 70s further highlights dependence of older population on health services


10th July 2014


Nursing Homes Ireland today welcomed Government plan to introduce free GP care to persons aged 70+. It noted comments today by Minister for Health Dr James Reilly that over 70s are amongst heaviest users of health services and extension of GP care to these persons would help ensure the sickest and most vulnerable were being looked after.


Tadhg Daly, CEO of Nursing Homes Ireland stated: “This move by the Government is to be welcomed and is an acknowledgement of the increased medical and care needs of our population as it ages. While we welcome this Government plan, we reiterate there is a present crisis in older persons care that must be addressed as priority.”


Yesterday Nursing Homes Ireland outlined extent of care crisis in older person care because of inordinate delays in Nursing Home Support Scheme (Fair Deal) release of financial support. An NHI survey of 122 private and voluntary nursing homes revealed a substantial crisis in the operation of Fair Deal, with older persons requiring the specialist and continuous care of nursing homes typically waiting beyond three months from application to funding drawdown. The survey revealed the inordinate delays are causing deterioration in older persons’ health and causing them and their relatives significant distress, worry and hardship. 


Tadhg Daly, NHI CEO stated: “The findings emanating from our survey highlighted severe pressures and distress being brought to bear upon older persons and their relatives because of the delay in release of funding for Fair Deal. Free GP care is one important element of healthcare provision for a population that is living longer. However, we must ensure a continuum of care model addresses the myriad of healthcare requirements that are present and forthcoming for our older population. The inordinate and lengthy delays being experienced at present by older persons requiring Fair Deal financial support has significant knock-on effect in respect of demand for GP services. Persons unable to access nursing home care who are being cared for at home are generally more reliant upon GP services because the specialist staff employed within nursing homes, such as nurses, carers and therapists, are not available to continuously improve the older persons health and wellbeing.


“The findings emanating from the survey that we published yesterday outlined there is a crisis in nursing home care that is going under the radar. The incumbent or incoming Minister for Health must address this as a priority. When Fair Deal 2014 budget was significantly cut we warned it would have very serious consequences for health and wellbeing of older persons and increase pressures upon acute hospital services. Our fears are being realised. We again reiterate our call for Department of Health to bring stakeholders around the table to ensure we address and plan for the significant growth for long-term residential care that is escalating with increase in numbers growing older.” Read the press release informing of survey findings here.


Tadhg Daly, NHI CEO is available for further interview. For further information contact Michael McGlynn, NHI Communications & Research Officer at 01 4292570 or 087 9082970.



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