Palliative and end-of-life-care services in Laois, Longford, Offaly and Westmeath need and deserve urgent investment. This issue, which the Irish Hospice Foundation has consistently highlighted, was the topic of a special documentary by Midlands Radio last night (Monday). You can listen back at this link http://bit.ly/2f2jWCY .
As mentioned, IHF CEO Sharon Foley says: “Everyone deserves a good death and we have a duty to work together to ensure that can happen. This is about people who are dying and the families that are left behind. The Midlands is being very much denied a full range of palliative care services.”
“The region is currently an end-of-life care “blackspot” with no specialist inpatient hospice unit to act as a hub to support and enhance services in Laois, Offaly, Longford and Westmeath. These counties have the lowest level of regional state investment in palliative care nationally.
“The people of the Midlands deserve better,” continued Sharon. “Without a hospice, and the resultant special palliative care services that comes with it, patients are being denied the best possible care on their final journey.
“We all need to sing with the one voice and work together for advancements. Not having a full service means patients with complex symptoms which cannot be managed in homecare have to be transferred to an acute hospital, often through a busy A&E Department. It also means many more people die in acute hospitals. Double the percentage of people with cancer who die in the Midlands die in an acute hospital; compared to other areas where there is a full Level III service.”
The Report of the National Advisory Committee on Palliative Care, which was adopted as government policy in 2001, clearly states: ‘Each health board area should have a comprehensive specialist palliative care service to meet the needs of patients and families in the area. This service should support the patient wherever the patient may be – at home, in hospital, in residential care, or in a specialist palliative care unit.’
Commenting on this Ms Foley said, “Fifteen years on there is still no adequate hospice hub in the Midlands. This is deeply disappointing and we won’t give up the fight for services to be provided.”
Pat Bennett, HSE Chief Health Officer for Laois said before the unit can go ahead it needs the backing of Laois and four other hospice groups for the €9.5 million unit attached to Tullamore hospital. He said the unit would cost up to €2.5 million to run annually, but the HSE is committed to paying for its operation.
“Any commitment (from the five midland hospice groups) would put me in a stronger position to go back to the Department of Health and look for funding. We are being passed out by other areas who are coming forward saying they can put some seed funding down,” commented Mr Bennett.