Independent TD Mattie McGrath has accused the Minister of State at the Department of Health Kathleen Lynch of providing a totally inadequate response to a series of questions placed to her on the crisis in the Fair Deal Scheme. Deputy McGrath was speaking after he had raised the matter with the Minister during Topical Issues in the Dáil:
“The situation is out of control. When people make the decision to go into the fair deal scheme, they must wait up to 16 weeks to get a placement.
I want to kill the myth that there is no capacity in nursing homes, a myth the Minister repeated on a television programme recently. It is untrue. In South Tipperary, 12 beds are taken up by patients who are not fit to go home. The families are traumatised because they cannot take them home and they are waiting for nursing homes to go to.
The patients are in long-stay beds which is having a major knock-on effect on hospitals throughout the country. There is one hospital in Clonmel and there are step-down facilities in Carrick-on-Suir, Clogheen and Cashel.
I ask the Minister of State to take her head out of the sand and deal with the issue. Talking about budget capping on this issue is the cruellest word she can use. People are at the end of their lives, having given service to the State and paid their taxes, as have their families, while the Minister of State talks about capping the funding. It is totally insensitive and it is a different Minister of State from the person I saw in opposition for four years.
In opposition she was a passionate patient advocate but now she reads out speeches prepared by the HSE and the Department of Health with apparent indifference.
The Minister of State should hang her head in shame because of the crisis, the trauma caused and the waste and occupancy of beds being held up for so long.
I beg the Minister of State to do something. We are in the winter months and hospitals will get busy. Families are traumatised, having made the difficult decision to care for the family member properly. The system is cruel, ineffective and inept in sorting out the problem. It is another crisis and it is another fine mess the Government has created,” concluded Deputy McGrath.