Northern Ireland health minister Michael McGimpsey has announced that free personal care is currently unaffordable, but remains a commitment. He blamed other ministers for rejecting his request in the last Budget round for additional funding to pay for free personal care.
The minister’s statement coincided with the completion of a review of care provision, which estimated the cost of providing free care at between £30m and £40m a year. At present, about 16.000 people receive free personal care in Northern Ireland, either in care homes or their own homes.
“Over the next 50 years, the number of people over 65 will more than double from almost 250,000 to half a million people,” explained McGimpsey. “We already spend over £630million a year supporting our older people, a spend which is second only to funding for acute services. I am also investing a further £60million in this Comprehensive Spending Review period to support an additional 1,500 older people in the community.”
The minister promised to keep the possibility of free personal care under review. He urged people to lobby other ministers for funding to be made available.