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Coronavirus: £6.75m funds boost welcomed by Northern Ireland hospices

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Relieved: Heather Weir

Relieved: Heather Weir

Relieved: Heather Weir

Hospices in Northern Ireland have welcomed £6.75m in Executive funding, but said they will need sustained support to continue services during the pandemic.

Finance Minister Conor Murphy said the money would help to ease the pressure caused by the loss of fundraising and revenue from charity shops.

"Our hospices are there for people and their families when they need it most and I doubt there are many families across this region, my own included, who have not experienced that support," he said at yesterday's Executive briefing.

The hospice funding includes £3.2m to the Northern Ireland Hospice (including the Children's Hospice), £1.6m to Marie Curie, £1.1m to the Southern Area Hospice, £600,000 to Foyle Hospice and £250,000 to the Cancer Fund for Children.

NI Hospice chief executive Heather Weir said she was "relieved" by the announcement.

"Having learned that the £200m announced by the Chancellor was not for hospices in the devolved nations, we are thankful that the NI Executive quickly sought to clarify the position of local hospices in Northern Ireland," she said.

"We would urge the NI Executive to consider a sustained level of funding for hospices. This would allow us to focus on delivery of our much-needed services and remove the constant threat of lack of funding," she said.

Foyle Hospice CEO Donall Henderson said the money went some way to ease a "crippling financial burden" but did not ensure hospices were safe or replace their income for the year.

"Ultimately this could have an impact on the delivery of our services in the future, but we want to reassure people that we are still here for them, providing compassionate care and support where it is most needed," he said.

Liz Cuddy, CEO of Southern Area Hospice, welcomed the funding announcement "as recognition by the Executive of the vital support we provide to the health service".

Belfast Telegraph