The HSE and Department of Health have admitted that some nursing homes do take into account spouse's income before deciding on the charges. This does not concur with the existing legislation.
Fine Gael health spokesman Dr Liam Twomey said that the report on more illegal charges was worrying. "It is absolutely disgraceful to along with legislation to hear that HSE guidelines allowed the income of a spouse of a long-stay public nursing home patient to be taken into account when assessing the fee," he said. " It is difficult to believe that the guidelines were not brought into line with the regulations introduced along with legislation to legalize nursing home charges and, as a result, an illegal practice was perpetuated."
Dr Twomey said that there may be many such charges which have not yet come to the surface. The Ombudsman's report contains many references and it is possible the senior citizens have been made sacrificial goats once again.
Responding to these charges, the HSE said, "The HSE established an Expert Group to develop a set of national guidelines to deal with the provisions of the legislation."