Alliance Assembly member Kieran McCarthy has said that the £9 million worth of free nursing care contributions provided by the Assembly is no longer helping the elderly as it should.
Mr McCarthy said that some opportunistic nursing homes were putting profit first by increasing fees by £100 per week – the exact amount the Assembly has contributed since introducing free nursing care in October 2002.
Mr McCarthy will be raising the issue with the Health Minister on April 14. The Strangford MLA said: “To increase nursing home fees by £100 per week shortly after the Assembly decided to make contributions of exactly that amount smacks of gross opportunism.
“Those receiving this money are the people most in need of it, and to take it away at one fell swoop is setting the situation back to where we were last year. For many, the Assembly’s care subsidy is worth nothing from this week onwards.
“If the elderly are to receive little or no benefit from ‘free’ nursing care, we need to look again at how this can be remedied. Part of the solution may be found in Scotland, where the devolved Parliament has introduced free personal care for those who need it most.
“Those people who require help with such things as making a fire, dressing or taking medication are better cared for in this situation, and Alliance will continue to campaign for the introduction of free personal care when the Assembly is reinstated.”