Ombudsman to be able to investigate private nursing homes

Office will gain ability to respond to complaints by residents and their families

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin. Mr Howlin is to extend the remit of the Ombudsman to allow it to investigate complaints in private nursing homes. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin. Mr Howlin is to extend the remit of the Ombudsman to allow it to investigate complaints in private nursing homes. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

 

The Ombudsman is to be given new powers to investigate complaints in private nursing homes.

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin is to extend the remit of the office to allow residents or their families to take up their issues with Peter Tyndall.

The move will end the grey area which meant up to 22,500 people living in long- term care could not make complaints to the independent office.

A spokeswoman for Mr Howlin said the order will be in place by the end of June after a consultation with the relevant bodies.

She said: “The Minister proposes to extend the Ombudsman’s remit to private nursing homes whose residents are in receipt of State support or subvention. This will afford greater accountability and assurance to patients of these nursing homes and to their families.”

Local procedure

The move by Mr Howlin will allow the independent and impartial Ombudsman examine complaints about public and private nursing homes.

A spokesman for Mr Tyndall welcomed the move and said this had been something the office had called for. He said: “The Ombudsman has wanted this to happen and called for the powers from late 2013 and has raised it a number of times.

Extension of powers

This had been one of the issues Mr Tyndall raised with Mr Howlin after he took office. He had said the office receives many complaints it cannot investigate because it does not have the powers.

The State currently provides funding to 22,360 nursing home residents and 5,000 in public institutions.

Legislation to expand the Ombudsman’s powers in October 2013 came into effect last year, bringing an additional 180 bodies – mainly in education – under its remit.

It also allows for the consideration of more powers to investigate non-public bodies in receipt of significant exchequer funding.

Mr Howlin’s spokeswoman added: “As prescribed by the 2012 Act, the Minister has prepared a draft order and begun the consultation process on it.”