Belfast Telegraph

State accused of 'elder care abuse'

Older people have been systematically denied their rights over 25 years because of a lack of State-funded nursing home beds, a damning watchdog report has revealed.

More than 1,200 vulnerable elder people complained to the Ombudsman's office which accused the Government and health chiefs of having an unacceptable disregard for the law.

Emily O'Reilly lashed the Department of Health and Health Service Executive (HSE) for fighting long, drawn-out lawsuits against older people who believed they were wrongly charged for nursing home care.

The shocking findings prompted Age Action to accuse the Government of financial elder abuse.

Cases examined by the watchdog date back to 1985 with less well-off patients told they, or their families, had to pay for a room in a private nursing home because there were no public beds.

Age Action chief executive Robin Webster said: "The issue of older people who were forced to pay for private nursing home beds because they could not get a public bed they were entitled to, remains the elephant in the sitting room.

"In effect, it is the most pro-longed case of financial elder abuse by the State."

No-one will be offered compensation as a result of the inquiry.

Health Minister Mary Harney said she has fundamental concerns about the inquiry and claimed that it did not follow fair procedures.

The minister also attacked the content, scope and language of the report.

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