Palliative care a postcode lottery
Terminally ill patients are denied adequate palliative care depending on where they live, a new report has found.
Nearly half the counties in Ireland have no in-patient hospice units, with the North East, South East and the Midlands among those at a geographical disadvantage due to a lack of beds.
Professor Mary McCarron, dean of health sciences at Trinity College Dublin (TCD), which published the report, said more needs to be done to ensure everyone has access to quality care.
"At a time when there is so much focus on the challenges to be faced in healthcare, this report highlights tremendous achievement in the expansion of availability and quality in palliative care," she said.
"Nevertheless, it also highlights some of the challenges still to be faced, including some remaining regional inequities. Even in an environment of more restrained resources a roadway is provided on where next steps should occur."
Other disadvantaged regions include counties Mayo, Wicklow and Kerry, and in some areas where there are facilities, a lack of resources has forced them closed.
"New in-patient bed facilities in Cork and north Dublin, for example, haven't been able to open because of a lack of resources," Prof McCarron said.
"Something needs to be done to address this, as everyone should be given the opportunity of quality care and a good death."
The specific regions were identified in a recent 2013 study by the Irish Hospice Foundation, she added.
The TCD report, published by Prof McCarron and colleagues from the School of Nursing and Midwifery, examined an investment programme launched nine years ago to improve quality of care for those close to death. The Atlantic Philanthropies End of Life programme was launched in 2004 with 25 million euro of funding.