Despite the excellent dedicated work of staff at St Conlon’s Community Nursing Unit, Nenagh and at Dean Maxwell Community Nursing Unit, Roscrea, these nursing units are among 21 public nursing homes threatened with sanctions up to and including closure, according to Deputy Seamus Healy.
“This is basically due to the failure of government to invest in upgrading the homes and a consequent finding of ‘major non-compliance’ by inspecting body HIQA,” says Deputy Healy.
Deputy Healy raised the issue at last Thursday’s meeting (15/1/2015) of the Oireachtas Health Committee. Deputy Healy demanded clarification of the position from Minister Varadkar and Tony O’Brien Director of the Health Service Executive. Mr O’Brien confirmed the seriousness of this issue when he said: “The challenge for re-registration of public long-stay beds with HIQA is a significant issue to be dealt with over the coming months as there is insufficient capital funding available to meet all requirements and there are over 30 large units who provide in excess of 2,500 beds and where there is, currently, insufficient funding in the capital plan to bring this infrastructure to the required standard. “
Further detailed information was contained in the Sunday Business Post. Neither nursing home was identified in the HSE Service Plan for 2015 as projects that will secure capital investment in the coming year. HIQA said in its report “if a centre is not in compliance by July 1, 2015 and if no realistic, time-bound costed/funded plan has been agreed with the Authority, then appropriate conditions will be attached to any renewal of registration”
In addition to closure, HIQA can impose conditions for continued operation which can include forcing nursing homes to reduce the number of residents or high-dependency patients they have. A HSE document leaked last year said that E300m was required to upgrade public nursing units. But only E7.3m is being allocated for the entire country this year in the HSE service plan. Neither of the two nursing homes was identified in the service plan for capital investment this year.
“The neglect of these homes by government is unforgiveable. Capital investment must be provided immediately to these homes before July 1, 2015. There is a particular obligation on Government politicians in Tipperary, including Ministers Kelly and Hayes, to insist that the HSE Service Plan be amended to include the required capital investment. Additional direct government funding must be allocated to secure the future of these units,” concluded Deputy Healy.