1,100 elderly on waiting list for nursing home
MORE than 1,100 mostly elderly people who have been assessed as needing nursing home care are languishing on waiting lists.
Many are occupying beds in acute hospitals, which are struggling to cope with severe overcrowding in emergency departments.
The 1,100 have been approved for financial support under the Government's Fair Deal scheme.
However, a squeeze on funding means they are facing potentially serious delays before getting a nursing home place.
The scheme, allocated €1bn for 2011, faced a financial crisis in May after the Health Service Executive (HSE) said the money would only cover the cost of the existing 22,000 in nursing homes.
The Department of Health bailed it out with another €62m in June, along with a promise that 4,800 more could avail of the subsidies this year.
But the demand is continuing to rise and many elderly, victims or strokes or patients who have been in accidents are facing an indefinite wait for a nursing home place which will only become vacant when another resident dies.
In June, 804 patients could not be discharged because they had no nursing home place or home care package.
The nursing home waiting list controversy was revealed by Roscommon TD Denis Naughten, who lost the Fine Gael party whip over the closure of the emergency unit in the local hospital.
He was alerted to the problem after he enquired about the delays in Roscommon.
The HSE said last night people were moving off the waiting list for a nursing home place on a weekly basis as funding was being allocated.
However, it stressed this delay for a placement would continue because it had to keep within its budget.
People on the waiting list are dealt with in chronological order and according to the date of their completed application.