Carers

April 2nd, 2008 - Pat Breen

QUESTION NO: 228

DÁIL QUESTION addressed to the Minister for Health and Children (Ms. Harney (Dublin Mid-West))

by Deputy Pat Breen

for WRITTEN ANSWER on 02/04/2008

* To ask the Minister for Health and Children if medical cards will be made available to carers; and if she will make a statement on the matter.

Pat Breen T.D.

REPLY.

The assessment of eligibility to medical cards is statutorily a matter for the Health Service Executive (HSE) and, with the exception of persons aged over 70 who have an automatic entitlement to a medical card, is determined following an examination of the means of the applicant and his/her dependants. Under Section 45 of the Health Act, 1970 medical cards are provided for persons who, in the opinion of the HSE, are unable without undue hardship to arrange general practitioner medical and surgical services for themselves and their dependants.

In assessing eligibility, the HSE uses guidelines based on people’s means, which includes their income, certain allowable outgoings and the effect of other factors which may impact on people’s ability to meet the cost of GP services. There are also a number of income sources, including the Carer’s Allowance, which are disregarded in assessing an applicant’s income. Furthermore, people whose sole source of income is from social welfare or HSE allowances and benefits are allowed a medical card.

My Department is currently reviewing all legislation relating to eligibility for health and personal social services with a view to making the system as fair and transparent as possible. As part of this exercise, a review of the eligibility criteria for medical cards in the context of financial, medical and social need is being undertaken and is expected to be completed by autumn 2008.

QUESTION NO: 229

DÁIL QUESTION addressed to the Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children (Ms. Hoctor)

by Deputy Pat Breen

for WRITTEN ANSWER on 02/04/2008

* To ask the Minister for Health and Children if she will provide extra funding for additional home help hours to facilitate a two week respite break for home carers; and if she will make a statement on the matter.

– Pat Breen

REPLY.

The Home Help service nationally is a well established and successful component of this Government’s strategy to provide a range of services to enable older people to remain in their own homes and communities for as long as possible. In this context, and in order to address increasing demands in the specific area of Home Helps in recent years, approximately €56 million additional funding has been provided for service improvements over the three years 2006-8. This has enabled the provision of 11.3 million Home Help hours by the Health Service Executive (HSE) in 2006 and 11.7 million hours in 2007.

Budget 2008 provided significant additional current funding of €22 million to cover a range of new community-based initiatives for Older People. This includes a sum of €5 million for this year towards 200,000 extra Home Help hours.

This will bring the expected number of Home Help hours nationally to some 11.98 million in 2008. Bearing in mind all the circumstances, I am satisfied that the prioritised funding made available this year will assist the HSE in meeting increasing demands on its Home Help service.

An extra €3.6m has also been provided, arising from the recent Budget, to enhance DayCare/Respite services in 2008. The HSE has allocated €1.1m of this for an additional 345 Day Care places, bringing the total number of such places nationally to around 21,640 by year end. A sum of €2.5m is being made available by the Executive to benefit 1,245 new Respite Care clients in the current year.

I will of course, in conjunction with the HSE, continue to monitor the delivery of these various new services to ensure that provision is maximised across the country.