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Thursday 8 June 2023 Dublin: 11°C (File photo)
# Nursing Homes
Calls for Government to publish records on 'secret strategy' for illegal nursing home charges
It follows a report in today’s Irish Mail on Sunday.

OPPOSITION PARTIES HAVE called on the Government to release documents relating to an alleged failure to provide payouts to families of people who were illegally charged for nursing home stays from the 1970s until late 2000s.

It follows a report in today’s Irish Mail on Sunday that successive governments have allegedly pursued a secret strategy aimed at limiting refunds from the State to individuals who were incorrectly charged for public nursing home care.

The report, based on a protected disclosure by Department of Health whistleblower Shane Corr, alleged that multiple governments have since 2011 sought to hide the State’s liability for the charges to prevent a possible €12 billion in payouts to those affected.

Sinn Féin’s health spokesperson David Cullinane today called on the government to release all relevant documents and memos about the alleged plan in order to provide full transparency around it.

“The reporting in the Mail on Sunday today of very serious allegations that the State and successive governments had, and continue to pursue, a secret plan to block refunds of illegal nursing home charges is truly shocking,” he said in a statement.

“We need full transparency from government and the full facts must be put into the public domain immediately.”

Cullinane also said that he has written to the Oireachtas Health Committee asking for copies of memos and documents about strategy.

“All related documents should be shared with the committee and published, including relevant memos and correspondence within government and its departments,” he added.

The Irish Times is also reporting this evening that Labour health spokesperson Duncan Smith has called for the documents to be made available to the Public Accounts Committee.

“We need complete and total transparency here,” he is quoted as saying.

The practice of charging those entitled to free nursing home care has been the subject of hundreds of complaints to the Office of the Ombudsman in recent years.

Until the mid-2000s, medical card holders were entitled to free nursing home care from the State.

Then-Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly published a report on the issue called ‘Who Cares?’ in 2010, which says the Department of Health “persisted with an illegal charging regime because of, amongst other things, the need to maintain an important source of funding”.

It also accused State agencies of showing a lack of transparency and accountability about the matter.

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