Faster access to nursing home care key to addressing hospital overcrowding


3 month+ waiting period for Fair Deal leading to increasing numbers on trolleys and wards 

Nursing Homes Ireland today, 8th August, stated addressing the 3 month+ waiting period to access nursing home care must be an urgent priority for new Minister for Health Leo Varadkar to tackle overcrowding in hospitals.


Tadhg Daly, NHI CEO stated: “Sadly as warned, the substantial cut to Fair Deal 2014 budget is having an increasingly negative impact upon healthcare delivery within our health services. This is manifesting in the increase in numbers on hospital trolleys and the overcrowding in hospital wards. The HSE is reporting an upward trend in the number of people delayed discharge and the significant majority of these people – 78% - are awaiting the specialist care of nursing homes. At same time, the waiting period for Fair Deal financial support has significantly increased from a month at the beginning of the year to three months at the end of June. This is incredulous for older people who have been assessed as requiring the continuous, specialist care provided within a nursing home.”


An NHI survey published in July highlighted the extraordinary delays in receiving Fair Deal financial support are leading to extended, unnecessary stays in acute, district and community hospitals, and older persons are being readmitted to acute hospitals from community settings because of such delays.


Mr Daly added: “The commitment by HSE to provide an additional €5m to release badly needed capacity is to be welcomed. However we would warn the HSE and Department of Health such a reactionary measure is short-term solution to a long-standing problem. Accessing nursing home care in a timely manner is central to addressing issues of overcrowding within our hospitals. The present overcrowding - away from the illnesses of the winter months - is extraordinary and co-relates directly to the bad decisions made on Fair Deal funding. The foolish robbing of Fair Deal resources earlier in the year to gloss over other cracks in the system is now coming home to roost.”


“We must adequately resource Fair Deal to ensure timely access to nursing home care for older persons. Manifestation of the present failure to do so is evident in large number of older people in hospital fit for discharge but awaiting nursing home care. Inability to access this appropriate care in a timely manner is causing them and their relatives considerable distress and is having a seriously detrimental impact upon older persons health. Addressing the current impasse surrounding Fair Deal must a priority for new Minister for Health Leo Varadkar and will deliver significant healthcare and cost benefits for health service.”


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.


Evening Herald, 9th August 2014: Nursing home delays fueling hospital chaos 

Irish Medical News, 25th August 2014: Fair Deal scheme in crisis


Note for Editor

  • The HSE Performance Report May 2014 informs of an “upward trend” in numbers delayed discharges, informing of 15% increase of such persons in first five months of 2014. The significant majority – 78% - were awaiting long-term nursing care.  
  • Minister for Social Care Kathleen Lynch informed Dáil Éireann 17th July waiting period for Fair Deal funding approval is 3 months (12 weeks) and at end of June 1,465 people were approved for the scheme but awaiting its financial support.  
  • Read NHI statement Survey highlights crisis in older persons care that must be priority for Minister for Health here. It advises of the key findings emanating survey of 122 private and voluntary nursing homes who were questioned in respect of the extent of delays surrounding Fair Deal financial approval and informed of consequences of extraordinary delays upon older persons and health services. 


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