CARELESSNESS IN the HSE caused an eight-year delay in processing an elderly woman’s application for a public long-term care bed, Ombudsman and Information Commissioner Emily O’Reilly has found.
An investigation published yesterday by Ms O’Reilly found the woman’s son, who had been left in debt by the delay, should be paid compensation of €56,500.
The results of two other investigations were also published.
One case looked at the non- implementation of decisions made by a HSE appeals officer which resulted in a payout of more than €100,000 to 15 parties.
Another examined the non-payment of disability allowance to a young man who was placed in a care service in Northern Ireland.
In all three cases, Ms O’Reilly found “the action or inaction of the public bodies concerned was contrary to fair or sound administration”. But she did welcome the “constructive engagement” of the public bodies and said it reflected their commitment to better standards.
In the case involving the elderly woman the report said she had been resident in a private nursing home in Galway. The fees there were being met in part from her State pension and a means-tested nursing-home subvention. The balance was paid by her son.
The woman’s GP first applied for a public long-term care bed for her in 1995, but there were no results. After further applications and a complaint to the ombudsman the woman was provided with a public bed in 2004, a few months before her death. Her son owed €15,000 in arrears to the private nursing home incurred while she awaited a public placement.
Ms O’Reilly found the failure to process the original application was a result of carelessness. She recommended that when reviewing or designing schemes of priority for the services it provides, the HSE should ensure they are open, transparent and operate in a manner consistent with good administration.
She ruled the woman’s family was to receive €30,000 for the private nursing home fee and a further €25,000 to acknowledge the money that would have been allocated under the health repayment scheme if a public bed had been provided in 1995.
An additional €1,500 was awarded for the hardship endured by the family when they had to pay the private nursing home costs.
A spokeswoman for the HSE said human error led to the delays. The issue had been addressed.
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