Call for fundamental reform of palliative care service delivery

A call has been made for a fundamental reform of the way palliative care services are delivered in the west.

Local Fine Gael TD Brian Walsh said he been working very closely with the board of Galway Hospice with a view to bringing this about.

He stated the appointment of the new palliative care consultant was an important step towards addressing this situation but further work was required. He said he was committed to doing what needed to be done.

It emerged in February that the new consultant was being sought by University Hospital Galway (UHG ) but a joint review of this proposal recently by UHG and Galway Hospice resulted in the proposed post being shared between the Hospice and the acute facility with the majority of the post assigned to Galway Hospice.

The hospice currently shares a palliative care consultant with Mayo General Hospital and benefits from onsite consultant care just two days per week.

However, Deputy Walsh said that the new appointment would mean that full-time consultant care would now be available at the hospice.

“I questioned from the outset the proposal to assign a second consultant exclusively to UHG and I made my views in relation to this matter known to the Minister for Health at the earliest opportunity,” he said.

“A hospice should be the central hub for the provision of palliative care - not merely an outlet in the community that is subsidiary to an area’s acute hospital.”

He said the most appropriate setting for the provision of such care is a patient’s home followed by a hospice. An acute hospital environment should be a last resort, he believed.

“The appointment of the new palliative care consultant is an important step towards addressing this situation but further work is required and I am committed to doing what needs to be done,” he added.

Deputy Walsh met with Taoiseach Enda Kenny in Dublin recently to discuss proposals regarding funding for the hospice and plans to increase bed capacity at the Renmore facility.

He said that he was encouraged by the Taoiseach’s response and remained confident that issues relating to a historical funding deficit would be comprehensively addressed.

Deputy Walsh has been working closely with the hospice board on the proposals and there are ongoing communications between the board and the Taoiseach and the Minister for Health.

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