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€5m legal fees to refund costs for nursing care

ALMOST €5m a year has been paid in legal and accountancy fees for a scheme to refund overcharged nursing home costs.

KPMG accountants and McCann Fitzgerald solicitors have been paid a total of €14.5m, including VAT.

Both firms were appointed in 2006 to administer the scheme.

To date, 35,330 applications have been made under the plan, resulting in 19,850 successful claims, Health Minister Mary Harney said.

Approximately 15,000 applicants will be refused.

By the end of 2009, €448m had been allocated to the scheme.

The HSE estimates that additional funding of €17m will be required in 2010.

The information was provided to Labour Party TD Sean Sherlock, who raised the issue in the Dail.

The initiative is designed to refund patients illegally charged by health authorities for publicly funded long-stay care.

It also takes in illegally charged patients in publicly contracted beds in private nursing homes and patients in receipt of in-patient services in community based facilities.

Applicants can appeal against a decision of the scheme administrator within 28 days of receiving the ruling.

The Department of Health said the majority of those rejected related to applications which are outside the "parameters" of the scheme.



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An example would be an application made on behalf of patients who did not reside in publicly funded long-stay facilities.

Applications have also been made on behalf of patients who died prior to December 9, 1998, which was the starting point for the scheme.

An outside company was contracted to administer the scheme because of the volume and complexity of the refunds, the department said.

comurphy@herald.ie