Abolish respite charges, says Wood

Cllr Tom Wood
A motion calling for the abolition of in-patient rehab and respite care charges tabled by Cllr Tom Wood at the November meeting of the Regional Health Forum was adopted by members and is to be directed to the HSE.

A motion calling for the abolition of in-patient rehab and respite care charges tabled by Cllr Tom Wood at the November meeting of the Regional Health Forum was adopted by members and is to be directed to the HSE.

He was informed that “under a HSE directive a charge amounting to J25 per day is levied on all those who receive in-patient services for longer than 30 days over a rolling 12mth period. Directions to ensure the uniform application of existing legislation on charges for in-patient respite care services across all HSE areas were circulated by the HSE at the end of March 2013 for implimentation with immediate effect.

This development brought areas that were not charging for in-patient care services into line with other areas already charging for such services. As a result, and in the interests of fairness and equality, in-patient respite care and rehab charges have now been implemented in all areas on a standard and consistent basis.”

Cllr Wood said it was only in recent weeks that the matter came to light in the Cashel area when discharged elderly patients received unexpected bills amounting to hundreds of euro. Expressing concern that no fair system of assessment was in place he said the bills arrived at a time when people were under pressure and at their most vulnerable. He also questioned why the charges applied whether or not a person had full or limited medical card eligibility and were not even covered by insurers. “The people I am concerned about have already spent a number of weeks in a public hospital and because of the nature of their illness would be transferred to a Rehabilitation or Respite Unit where it would often be found necessary to detain them for an extended period. It is not unusual for orthopaedic rehab patients to be in a unit for three or more weeks or a medical rehab patient for anything between two and three months so charges would build up quickly,” he concluded.