Nursing home operator launches High Court challenge over State funding

Action has been taken by Bartra OPCO (Northwood NH) Limited

A nursing home operator has launched a High Court challenge over what it says is an insufficient funding increase it has been offered under a State scheme to provide care to the facilities’ long-term residents.

The action has been taken by Bartra OPCO (Northwood NH) Limited, which operates the 118-bed Northwood Residential Home on the Old Ballymun Road, Santry, Dublin 9.

It is part of a group of companies operating nursing homes in the State. It claims that under what is known as the “Fair Deal scheme” the State provides funding to approved private nursing homes to cover a certain amount of the costs of providing care to their long-term residents.

The level of funding each nursing home gets under the scheme is agreed between the provider and the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF). The NTPF is a government body whose functions include reducing waiting lists for treatment in the public healthcare system, as well as negotiating with nursing homes in relation to the scheme.


The applicant claims that in 2022 it entered into negotiations with the NTPF where the nursing home sought a 10 per cent increase, which amounted to an additional €127 per week per resident, of the payment it receives under the scheme. That would have brought the price paid to the applicant to a total of €1,392 per resident per week. The level of the increase sought was due to the increase in annual inflation and costs.

It claims that following months of discussions and reviews, the nursing home declined to accept several NTPF offers, which it claims were well under the increase it had sought.

In December 2023 it is claimed that the NTPF made a final offer to the applicant, which the State body described as being a “fair offer”. Under that offer the nursing home would be paid a maximum price of €1,320 per resident from January 1st, 2024, to April 30th, 2024, and €1,365 from May 1st, 2024, to April 30th, 2025.

However, the nursing home claims the offer is neither fair nor reasonable. It has sought to challenge it by way of High Court judicial review.

Approximately 95 per cent of Northwood’s revenue is derived from the scheme.

It claims that the offer, which it claims came about after the NTPF had delayed the negotiating process, and the refusal to backdate the payment to when discussions commenced, will result in the business sustaining financial losses.

The nursing home operator claims the offer is inconsistent compared to how the NTPF has dealt with other comparable nursing home’s bids for increased funding. It says any rejection of the NTPF’s final offer gives rise to the very real risk that the facility would be removed from the list of approved homes, and that the facility would have to close.

In such a scenario, which the applicant claims results in an imbalance of power between the NTPF and nursing home care provides, Northwood’s residents would have to make alternative care arrangements. It also claims the offer was made following a breach of the NTPF’s own published procedures.

Represented in its action by Paul Gallagher SC, with David Fennelly BL, the applicant seeks various orders and declarations from the court. These include orders quashing the respondent’s decision and its published procedures.

The applicant also seeks various declarations that the NTPF was in breach of fair procedures and of its duty to give reasons. It also seeks declarations that in arriving at its decision the respondent failed to take relevant matters into account, and placed undue weight on irrelevant issues, that its decision was irrational, unlawful and is in breach of the applicant’s rights.

The case came before Ms Justice Niamh Hyland on Monday, who on an ex parte basis granted the applicant permission to bring the challenge.

The matter will return before the court next month.