18/06/2002

NI Hospice require £1m to avert funding crisis

The Northern Ireland Hospice has asked the Northern Ireland Executive’s Health Minister Bairbre de Brún to step in and avert a major funding crisis.

The hospice said they needed an “immediate injection of one million pounds” if it is to maintain current levels of service.

In a statement the hospice said despite successful fund raising ventures the service was undercut by a legacy of “underfunding”.

The hospice’s financial concerns were expressed during an informal meeting with the Department’s Health Committee on May 1. After this meeting the deputy chairman of the Committee wrote to the minister expressing their concerns.

The minister has since confirmed the cash application is currently under consideration.

In a statement released this afternoon Ms de Brún said: “The hospice has sought substantial financial help from the Department over and above the grant already provided to assists with the central administration costs. Clearly this request needs to be examined carefully before any decision on additional money could be given. It is under active consideration at present.”

According to the hospice the funding by government of Hospice Care in Northern Ireland lags well behind the rest of the UK.

Carol O'Malley Chairman of NI Hospice Care said: “The funding from government has actually decreased from 42% in 1992 to 24% in 2002. It is well below any other region of the UK and Ireland. In addition, the Hospice has had to operate on the basis of year-by-year NHS funding negotiations with no long-term service arrangements.

“Northern Ireland Hospice has been underwriting the shortfall in basic funding through our fundraising activities. In 2001 – 2002 we subsidised services by £2 million to £5 million. The current rate of donated income, however, cannot keep pace with increasing demands being placed on the Hospice. We urgently need to recoup this funding as our reserves are being depleted and we are concerned about the future of the Hospice Care.

“It is a service facing increasing demands and whilst everyone is in agreement about the need for these vital services it is not clear as yet who will pay for them.”

(AMcE)

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