NI Hospices Excluded From £25m Govt Boost

Northern Ireland hospice users have been excluded from a £25 million cash boost announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

The funding will be allocated to protect charitable hospices and palliative care services in England, with no support for local providers, such as the Northern Ireland Hospice.

Chief Executive Heather Weir slammed the decision to exclude local people with life-threatening conditions as a "huge shame and injustice" and called for more government support and funding to continue to provide services that are so desperately needed in the region.

The annual cost of providing high quality, person-centred, specialist palliative care to infants, children and adults is around £15.5 million. Only 30% of that is statutory funded, leaving over £11 million to be raised annually through fundraising, commercial activities, donations and the time and support of volunteers.

Heather Weir said the demand for hospice support will only increase. "It is extremely disappointing that no financial support will be extended to Northern Ireland and to the 4,000 people who need our services each year," she commented.

"Northern Ireland Hospice has been providing care in the community and in our specialist in patient units for over 39 years, and unfortunately demand for our services and the relative costs are only increasing."
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She continued: "The services provided by Northern Ireland Hospice are entirely unique given that our care incorporates Northern Ireland Children's Hospice – the only facility of its kind in the north – meaning the care we provide caters to all ages. Hospice care extends beyond the walls of our Hospice building, reaching into the homes of those who wish to remain at home for as long as possible up to the end of their lives.

"In order to retain and attract specialist clinical staff we are having to increase wages, pensions and benefits in line with that of the NHS, but aren't receiving any additional funding to cover these additional outgoings.

"Earlier this year, an additional £25 million of funding was announced to support Children's Hospices in England and now a further £25 million announced by the Prime Minister proves that palliative care is indeed a priority in England.

"It is a huge shame and an injustice to people living in Northern Ireland with life-limiting and life-threatening conditions that the province is not receiving the same level of financial support as elsewhere in the UK for palliative care services.

"The Northern Ireland Hospice provides an exceptional service and we raise as much money as we can to allow these services to continue, however the charity is finding it difficult to reconcile the increasing costs with growing demand for our services.

"In the absence of a Northern Ireland Executive and assembly, we are liaising directly with a number of politicians to inform and raise awareness of these challenges in order for them to be addressed. We need more government support and funding to continue providing services which are so desperately needed here in Northern Ireland," Ms Weir concluded.


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