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'Sneaky' cut in nursing home Covid cash comes under fire

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Stephen Donnelly and (left) Micheal Martin.

Stephen Donnelly and (left) Micheal Martin.

Stephen Donnelly and (left) Micheal Martin.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly has come under fire for a "sneaky" cut to State support for nursing homes struggling to protect residents from the coronavirus.

In one of his first acts as minister, Mr Donnelly extended the Government's multimillion-euro bailout fund for nursing homes for another three months.

The scheme will allow nursing homes to draw down funding based on the number of residents in each centre until September.

However, while the scheme was extended, the amount that can be claimed was cut by 25pc.

Under the original temporary assistance payment scheme, nursing homes could claim €800-a-month if they had 40 residents, €400 for the next 40 and €200 for each additional person staying in their care.

However, under the revised scheme announced by Mr Donnelly on Tuesday, nursing homes can now only claim €600-a-month for the first 40 residents, €300 for the next 40 and €150 for each additional resident.

The new minister also introduced a €60,000 cap on how much could be claimed.

Labour Party leader Alan Kelly said the new minister pledged "the sun, moon and the stars" to the health service before his appointment.

"Yet now one of his first acts is to take away from a sector of society that was hit the hardest by Covid," Mr Kelly added.

"The sneaky reduction wasn't even announced, but rather presented as though the status quo was being maintained.

Support

"He didn't say in the Dail that he was cutting each of the payments by 25pc," Mr Kelly said.

In the Dail last week, Mr Donnelly said a "considerable amount of support" had been given to nursing homes in parallel to the scheme.

He said this included personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies, temporary accommodation for nursing home staff and assistance from the HSE's crisis response teams.

"The extension of the scheme also recognises that these other supports have been deployed as well," Mr Donnelly told the Dail.

"The extended scheme, therefore, will operate with some amendments."

The minister then detailed the new amounts that could be claimed under the revised scheme, but did not mention the previous figures.

Similarly, a press release announcing the extension of the scheme did not reference what was previously available to nursing homes or how much was being cut in future payments.