Belfast Telegraph

'Careless' HSE pays compensation

Careless Health Service Executive (HSE) staff stalled a family's efforts to get their elderly mother a public bed in a nursing home for eight years, it has been revealed.

The woman's son, who was left in debt by private care bills, complained to Ombudsman Emily O'Reilly who found the HSE acted unfairly and ordered it to pay the family 56,500 euro compensation.

Ms O'Reilly uncovered confusion in arrangements for the allocation of long stay beds and called for health administrators to be more open and consistent.

In the elderly woman's case, Ms O'Reilly said the delays were mainly down to careless HSE staff.

In a separate investigation into the HSE, the watchdog ordered it to pay 100,000 euro after 15 complaints from the south of the country over delays in financial supports for nursing home fees.

A third inquiry found a Government department wrongly stopped a man's disability allowance because he had to be cared for in Northern Ireland and ordered him to be paid 14,000 euro in arrears.

Ms O'Reilly said: "In all three cases I found that the action or inaction of the public bodies concerned was contrary to fair or sound administration."

Following the elderly woman's delayed public care, the family forked out 38,000 euro between 1996 and 2004 for private nursing home costs. Her son was 15,000 euro in debt trying to pay the bills. The Ombudsman ruled that the family were owed 30,000 euro for bed fees, another 25,000 euro which should have been paid as far back as 1995 if a public bed had been provided, and 1,500 euro for the relatives' hardship. The inquiry also uncovered HSE delays in dealing with correspondence and that officials changed their stance on a number of occasions.

In the Ombudsman's second report, she found all those looking for support for nursing home bills were on a low income, usually the state pension. The supports they were getting, known as the nursing home subvention, fell far short of the charges.

In the investigation into the handling of financial support for a disabled man, the then Department of Social & Family Affairs, now the Department of Social Protection, refused to pay arrears for October 2004 to May 2006.

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