Longford Hospice to continue push for extra beds

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St Joseph's

Pressure is growing for an additional two palliative care beds to be provided at St Joseph’s Care Centre

As plans for a proposed multi-million hospice unit for the midlands emerge, County Longford Hospice Homecare says it will continue to pressurise the HSE to provide 2 beds dedicated to palliative care in St Joseph’s Care Centre as the present accommodation is not suitable.

Proposals for a Specialist Palliative Care Unit were put forward by the HSE and the cost of building the unit could reach €10,000,000.

The midlands remains the only region in the country without such a unit and the proposed facility would serve Offaly, Laois, Westmeath and Longford.

However, Longford Hospice Homecare has expressed concern that people in Longford will face certain limitations and difficulties should the proposed palliative care unit go ahead.

“We consider that the facility is too far removed from Co Longford and use by Longford people will be limited not just by patients but also for family members facing the problems of life-threatening illness,” said chairperson of County Longford Hospice Homecare CLG, Dan Rooney.

“However, Tullamore is the Oncology centre for the midlands and there will be exceptional circumstances when unfortunately Longford patients will have no other option but to attend there because of their complex medical needs and hence the need for a specialist Palliative Care Unit.

“Longford Hospice Homecare will continue to support the local palliative care team with the excellent homecare service they provide,” Mr Rooney added.

“We will, however, continue to pressurise the HSE to provide two beds dedicated to palliative care in St Joseph's Care Centre as the present accommodation is not suitable.”

The proposal to locate such a unit in Tullamore was also discussed in 2016 by Laois Hospice but failed to win support because members felt Laois people would lose out.

The number one problem for Laois Hospice members was that Laois people should be the beneficiaries of any money raised in Laois primarily for the delivery of home care.

In a statement through its chairperson, Professor Humphrey J O'Connor, the Offaly Hospice Foundation has backed the HSE proposal for the Palliative Care Unit in Tullamore and says it is to kickstart the fund with a donation of €500,000 - approximately 50% of its current fund.

“The cost of a specialist palliative care unit could reach €10,000,000. The HSE report from 2013 on palliative care services in the Midlands concluded the optimal site for a Specialist Hospice Unit was on the grounds of Midland Regional Hospital, Tullamore,” said Professor O'Connor.

“However, it is important to state that the development of a Midlands Specialist Hospice Unit is not a local Tullamore or Offaly project but a vital health facility for the whole of the Midlands and beyond. A Specialist Hospice Unit in the Midlands is long overdue.”

He claimed all the hospice groups share the common purpose of improving the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problems of life-threatening illness and recognise the need for a Specialist Palliative Care Unit in the region.