HSE Update on Palliative Care Services

17th April 2008

Significant ongoing resources are provided by the HSE for the delivery of palliative care services by a range of statutory and voluntary palliative care providers across the country on an annual basis.

It should also be noted that within the general health services clinical staff are experienced in dealing with people in the latter stages of their lives in a sensitive and dignified fashion, and also strive to provide appropriate support to family members during this difficult time.

In recent years, further additional funds have been made available for the enhancement and development of palliative care services. In 2006, €9m was provided in development funds (to enhance specialist in-patient beds, to appoint consultant multi disciplinary palliative care teams and to develop home care support). This investment delivered a significant increase in the numbers of palliative care patients receiving specialist treatment in both hospital and community settings. It allowed for an additional ten specialist palliative care beds to be introduced in Milford Hospice, Limerick, bringing the total complement of in patient beds to 30. A number of consultants in palliative care medicine have been appointed in addition to a range of specialist palliative care nurses and allied health professionals.

In 2007, a further additional €5m was made available for developments and, in 2008, the HSE Service Plan commits to delivering a further €3m extra monies in additional developments.

Five Year Palliative Care Services Development Plan
Currently, a multi annual five year plan for the development of palliative care services is being completed by the HSE, with significant involvement from the voluntary sector. This plan will provide for revenue and capital investment in order to ensure equitable provision of services across all parts of the country.

The decision to undertake this plan was based on discussions between the Minister for Health & Children, the HSE and bodies such as the Irish Hospice Foundation, the Irish Cancer Society and the Irish Association of Palliative Care.

It is intended that the plan will be complete by the end of May and will provide a very sound planning framework for the sourcing and investment of additional resources. To date, the HSE's four administrative areas - with the full participation of voluntary and statutory palliative care providers - have developed a set of key priorities for addressing gaps in service provision over the next five years.

The next stage, which is currently underway, will allow for the completion of one overall national plan. This will prioritise developments over a five year period. This will take a patient centred approach and ensure that patients' particular and unique needs are addressed in a holistic manner.

The success of multi annual investment planning in other areas has shown that that they provide a very sound basis for the strategic development of services. For example, such plans have been used in the areas of intellectual disability, cardiovascular health and cancer services. It is hoped that the successes in these areas can be replicated in palliative care.


Alex Connolly, HSE Press and Media Relations Office
01 635 2840, 087 6184450



Last updated on: 17 / 04 / 2008