Belfast Telegraph

Hospice chief blasts 'injustice' of NI's exclusion from £25m funding

Heather Weir
Heather Weir
Ralph Hewitt

By Ralph Hewitt

Northern Ireland is set to miss out on Boris Johnson's £25m hospice care cash boost - which has been described as an "injustice".

The new Prime Minister released the funding to protect charitable hospices and palliative care services, however, all of the money will go towards services in England with no support for local providers, such as the Northern Ireland Hospice.

Another £25m was previously announced for children's hospices in England, but again none of the funds will be available here.

NI Hospice chief executive Heather Weir said: "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.

"Each year it costs £15.5m to provide high quality, specialist palliative care to infants, children and adults, with only 30% of that received through statutory funding. More than £11m must therefore be raised annually through fundraising and commercial activities, all of which are supported by the kindness and generosity of local people both in terms of donations and the time of volunteers."

Ms Weir added that in order to retain and attract specialist clinical staff, the hospice must increase wages, pensions and benefits in line with the NHS but, without extra funding, these additional outgoings cannot be covered.

She also said that Northern Ireland is in a unique position in that the services provided by the hospice incorporates the NI Children's Hospice - the only facility of its kind in the country.

"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," added Ms Weir.

"In the absence of a NI 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."

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