Dáil Éireann - Volume 638 - 02 October, 2007

Written Answers. - Nursing Homes Repayment Scheme.

Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason for the delay in rolling out the public long-stay patients repayment scheme; the time frame for payment; the measures in place to deal with the backlog of applications; her views on the matter; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21391/07]

  Deputy Mary Harney: The Health Service Executive (HSE) has responsibility for administering the scheme in conjunction with the appointed scheme administrator KPMG/McCann Fitzgerald.

The HSE has indicated that the scheme is progressing as speedily as possible and every effort is being made to make repayments. The HSE has indicated that the delays in making repayments under the scheme have been due to legal and technical issues. Firstly, over 13,400 estates who lodged claims to date had not extracted a grant of representation in respect of the estate of the deceased patient. In these instances the person entitled to extract the grant of representation has to be identified before an application can be processed and to date over 6,500 certificates of entitlement permitting individuals to apply for a repayment have issued. Secondly, there has been a high incidence of claimants providing insufficient information and these claims have taken longer to process as the scheme administrator must be provided with certain information in order to ensure that the correct person and correct amount is repaid. Thirdly, it has been necessary for the scheme administrator to visit over 330 HSE facilities to scan records which form the basis for the calculation of repayments. The format in which this information is held varies widely between institutions and usually includes a mixture of paper files, handwritten files and computer files.

In an effort to address some of the issues mentioned above, the HSE and the scheme administrator are currently conducting an intensive national roadshow campaign throughout the country. The project is part of the ongoing promotion of the scheme and is also aimed at meeting existing applicants directly to resolve form deficiencies. Open days have been held over the past 6 weeks in Dublin, Dundalk, Waterford, Cork, Galway and Limerick. Further open days will take place in Sligo, Athlone and the Cavan Monaghan area in the coming weeks. These [1176] events have been widely promoted through advertising and public relations campaigns on local radio and regional media. The open days have been well attended and have resulted in positive progress in resolving deficiencies and progressing applications.

The closing date for receipt of applications is 31st December 2007 and the HSE has indicated that final repayments should be made by mid 2008.