The Irish Hospice Foundation (IHF) today welcomed the announcement of a second palliative care consultant in the Midlands, as part of the HSE’s Service Plan for 2015, but is calling for the urgent development of an in-patient palliative care unit in the region.
While welcoming the new post, CEO of the Irish Hospice Foundation Sharon Foley expressed her serious concerns about the delay in developing an in-patient unit in the region.
“It is totally unacceptable that people in the Midlands don’t have access to full range of services. The critical gap, as identified in 2001 National Policy, is the absence of a specialist in-patient unit. Yet 13 years on and there is still no hospice in the Midlands and it is extremely disappointing that planning for this vital piece of infrastructure does not form part of the HSE’s Service Plan for 2015.
“Recent research funded by the IHF has revealed that a much higher rate of cancer deaths occur in the acute hospital setting in areas that are ‘resource poor’ in hospice services. In the acute hospitals at Midland Regional Hospital Mullingar, Tullamore and Portlaoise an average of 6,411 bed days per year are used by palliative patients. This is the equivalent to 18 beds, used on a full time basis.”
Ms Foley continued, “Nationally 45% of patients with cancer who die, do so at home. However, in the Midlands only 37% die at home, while in the Midwest, where services are more developed, a staggering 61% of cancer patients, who die, get to die at home.
“It is simply not good for a modern society that the area in which you live in dictates where you die.”
Ms Foley added, “I am calling on the HSE to work with local hospice groups and the Irish Hospice Foundation to progress this plan to build a comprehensive inpatient palliative care service (Regional Hospice) in the region, including the development of a specialist in-patient unit. The announcement of a second palliative care consultant in today’s service plan can only be welcomed but it remains of concern that such little progress has been made in the Midlands over the years.”
Ms Foley also welcomed the HSE’s plan to meet the identified deficiencies in palliative care beds in West and North Dublin.