Department of Health to consider review of hospice funding

The Department of Health is to consider a review of the way public funding is provided to the Galway Hospice after concerns were raised in the Dáil recently by Fine Gael Deputy Brian Walsh.

The Galway West TD criticised “disproportionality and inequality” in the allocation of funding for hospice facilities in the HSE West region following a visit to the Renmore facility with Taoiseach Enda Kenny last week.

He said that plans to more than double the existing capacity of the 12-bed hospice had been hampered by the low level of funding that it has received from the HSE compared with similar facilities elsewhere in the region.

“I had the privilege of visiting Galway Hospice with An Taoiseach last Friday and witnessing at first hand the exceptional service provided by the facility to patients in their care,” said Deputy Walsh.

“It is the only hospice in Ireland to be accredited by the International Society for Quality in Healthcare and the only hospice in Europe to have received an International Quality Improvement Award for outstanding achievement in the delivery of quality care.

“The hospice has won a special place in the hearts of the people of Galway and maintains this standard of excellence in spite of major disproportionality and inequality in the way in which it is funded,” he added.

Galway Hospice received €3.6 million in funding from the HSE last year compared to €11.1 million granted to Milford Hospice in Limerick. The amount of public funding received per hospice bed in Galway amounts to just over €300,000 whereas a rate of around €444,000 per bed is provided to Marymount Hospice in Cork.

Deputy Walsh told the Dáil that the number of consultant hours per bed in Galway was also disproportionately lower than that of other hospices in the HSE West region. It received 1.2 consultant hours per bed last year compared to 3.4 consultant hours per bed in Donegal.

“The fact that Galway Hospice is underfunded and under-resourced is reflected in the number of cancer-related deaths that occur in our main hospital. Some 47.5 per cent of all deaths at UHG are cancer-related compared to just 17 per cent at Limerick Regional Hospital where hospice services are properly financed,” explained the Galway West TD.

Responding to the issues raised by Deputy Walsh on Tuesday Minister of State at the Department of Health Róisín Shortall acknowledged that inequality existed in the area of funding allocations and said that a review would be discussed with the Minister for Health.

 

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