Press Release

Minister Moffatt refutes criticisms of the effect of Winter Initiative on Older People

Dr. Tom Moffatt T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children, today (9 January, 2001) expressed concern that the impression may be given that older people are being discriminated against in the Winter Initiative plans. The initiative, part of which involves contracting additional nursing home places, is aimed at helping acute hospital services to work better for the benefit of all those who need to use the service, including older people.

The Minister said that the needs of patients covered by the Winter Initiative will be determined by the appropriate medical team. Consequently, there is no question of older people being discharged prematurely from acute hospital care.

The Minister highlighted the additional resources which have been allocated to services for older people by this Government. Revenue funding has increased from £10m in 1997 to over£57m this year. Over £200m is being provided under the National Development Plan to improve and develop physical facilities for older people ranging from general hospitals to day centres in the community.

Part of this funding has been used to develop consultant-led assessment and rehabilitation services for older people on the lines recommended by the IMO Consultant Committee. There are currently 35 consultant physicians in the medicine of older people in 25 assessment and rehabilitation units. It is planned to further develop such units under the National Development Plan and funding has been provided in 2001 to enable an additional 5 consultants to be appointed.

“The provision of consultant led assessment rehabilitation services has been an integral feature of the policy of successive governments since the publication in 1988 of the Policy Document ‘The Years Ahead’. This Government has, and will continue, to provide additional resources to meet service needs for older people ranging from acute care to community support services. I am confident that the significant increase in investment in recent years will be seen as an indication of the Government’s commitment to providing health services for older people” said the Minister.