Monday, December 11, 2006

Fair Deal, Irish Nursing Homes and Harry Truman

There is surely an irony in the Government’s use of the term Fair Deal - President Harry Truman’s name for his political programme – for its new nursing home proposals.

President Truman had a sign on his desk that read – The Buck Stops Here. It would surely merit a cross on the mantlepiece if the Government adopted that principle too.

When has a Government Minister or senior civil servant last taken responsibility for incompetence or negligence in delivering public services and contracts?

There are about 1.7 million subscribers to health insurance to cover private health care because of the lack of confidence/trust in the public health service.

On the other hand, there is a greater trust in public nursing homes than private nursing homes that are largely viewed as giving primacy to moneymaking.

As the role of the religious withdrew from nursing home services, the Government response was to provide tax incentives similar to one available for car parks and holiday homes, to encourage the building of nursing homes.

So people with significant income to shield from tax who never had any professional involvement in a health service, got their accountants to produce business plans and hired a matron to run the nursing home.

Should we then be surprised that many of these nursing homes have been poorly run?

Compounding the issue, was the typical lack of "software" in the system i.e. no credible inspectorate.

As to the proposals to claw back up to 15% from the sale of a house on death, with 900,000 Irish workers without a pension, the equity in a house is an important cushion that wil now be reduced in potential for a significant segment of the population.