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HIQA and the Department of Health are set to clash over the extent to which the Authority should consider HSE resources when making regulatory recommendations, the Medical Independent (MI) has learned.
HIQA has received legal advice on a section of the Health Act 2007 that specifies it must have regard to the resources available to the HSE when carrying out regulatory work.
Section 8 (e) of the Act states that HIQA is expected “to review and makes recommendations as the Authority thinks fit in respect of the services, to ensure the best outcomes for the resources available to the Executive”.
MI understands that the Department and HIQA have different interpretations of this section of the Act.
The conflict has arisen as HIQA is increasingly concerned that a considerable number of designated centres in the disability and older persons’ sectors will not be compliant with capital-related requirements.
Ms Mary Dunnion, HIQA’s Chief Inspector of Social Services and Director of Regulation, told the Authority’s board meeting in March that if the Office of the Chief Inspector does not take enforcement action, it “is not applying the regulations appropriately as is required by the Health Act”.
Earlier in the meeting, Deputy Chief Inspector for Disability Services Mr Finbarr Colder and Deputy Chief Inspector for Older Persons Services Ms Susan Cliffe joined Ms Dunnion to outline the challenges in maintaining and granting renewal registration. In relation to nursing homes, Ms Cliffe explained that a change of Government policy in 2016 resulted in extending the timeframe to 2021 to allow providers to become compliant.
A national capital investment plan was published in 2016, which was to provide for the refurbishment or replacement of approximately 90 centres. However, Ms Cliffe stated that around half of these centres will not have the required capital works implemented by 2021.