Monday 23 September 2019

Nursing homes turn down PAC invite

Dáil Éireann. Stock picture
Dáil Éireann. Stock picture

Eilish O'Regan and Niall O'Connor

The organisation for private nursing homes has rejected a call to appear before the Public Accounts Committee today to answer questions about a confidential meeting where a potential boycott of the Fair Deal scheme was discussed.

In a letter to the committee, Nursing Homes Ireland chief Tadhg Daly said minutes of the meeting that appeared in public were confidential and the organisation had not waived privilege.

It follows an announcement yesterday by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) that it has started an examination of the private nursing home sector.

It followed revelations about the meeting where some home owners suggested collective action, including a possible boycott of the Fair Deal scheme in protest at the fees they are being paid.

The watchdog said it started an examination "of information provided to it in relation to potential anti-competitive conduct in the private nursing home sector".

"If the CCPC finds sufficient grounds it will proceed to open an investigation to establish whether a breach of competition law has occurred."

A spokesman for Nursing Homes Ireland said in response that it will co-operate fully and it is confident that it does not have a case to answer.

Meanwhile, Brian McEnery, chairman of Hiqa, who attended the meeting, will be quizzed by the committee about any potential conflict of interest. Hiqa, which inspects nursing homes, denies conflict of interest.

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

Private nursing homes have been in the firing line in recent weeks for charging residents top-up charges.

Irish Independent

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