Nursing homes ignored in plans but always get crisis call
A PRIVATE nursing homes chief has said that every year he expects a phone call from the HSE on January 3 asking for beds to help alleviate the winter trolley crisis.
Despite this, a request by Nursing Homes Ireland to be part of the Winter Initiative Planning was rejected by Leo Varadkar when he was health minister.
NHI chief Tadhg Daly says: ‘Our members are not involved in the planning stages of the winter initiatives. They need to engage with us. Rather than ringing us on the third of January, we would have a much better chance of fixing things if we were part of the dialogue.’
The Emergency Department Taskforce was set up by then-minister Varadkar in 2015 to tackle hospital overcrowding in winter. A written request from Mr Daly to join the Taskforce were rebuffed in September 2015 by Mr Varadkar’s office.
A spokesman for the Taoiseach said while the NHI’s ‘offer of help was welcome… planning was already under way… and the NHI was not a statutory agency’.
The NHI again requested a seat at the table under Minister Simon Harris. In September, the ED Taskforce said it will consider the request at its meeting this month. The Department referred our questions to the HSE, which did not respond. Currently there are 1,200 vacant beds in the NHI’s 440 nursing homes.