Tuesday 17 October 2017

Nursing homes in secret talks on Fair Deal boycott

SENSITIVE: Brian McEnery attended commercial meeting
SENSITIVE: Brian McEnery attended commercial meeting
Maeve Sheehan

Maeve Sheehan

The chairperson of the independent health watchdog attended a confidential meeting of private nursing home operators at which a boycott of the Fair Deal scheme was mooted, leaked records reveal.

Brian McEnery attended the highly sensitive commercial meeting when he was chair of the Heath Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa), the agency responsible for regulating private and public nursing homes.

The meeting was organised by Nursing Homes Ireland, in October 2015, in response to members' frustration at the fees they are paid by the State under the Fair Deal scheme.

According to leaked records of the meeting, a refusal to admit new residents discharged from hospitals, and controlling the number of new beds, were also floated as possible ways of "leveraging" a better price for their services.

However, lawyers present warned the meeting that any collective action such as a boycott risked an investigation by the Competition Authority and possible "dawn raids". No such collective action was ever taken.

Nursing Homes Ireland said it works closely with members but "remains vigilant to ensure members seek recourse permitted by law".

Hiqa said that Mr McEnery attended the meeting in his capacity as a partner in the accountancy firm, BDO, adding he was not required to disclose his attendance to Hiqa.

Sunday Independent

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