Hospice Foundation launches major building fund for Tullamore

Offaly Hospice Foundation is launching a building fund for a specialist 16-bed palliative care unit on the grounds of Tullamore Hospital.

It is estimated cost of building the unit for the midlands comes in at €10million and Offaly Hospice plans to kickstart the fund with a donation of €500,000.

Plans will be outlined at a public meeting in the Tullamore Court Hotel on Monday April 29 at 8pm.

The HSE has already identified a site on the grounds of the hospital, and has committed the €3.5 million in running costs it will need annually.

However, the €10 million needed to build the unit will have to be sought through fundraising efforts and Offaly Hospice Foundation will rely on the support of all four counties, including Longford, Laois and Westmeath, in order to make the project happen.

Offaly Hospice Foundation say people are "crying out" for palliative services and currently, patients who are at end-of-life are having to go through the Emergency Department, and are "dying on acute hospital wards".

Chairman and founder of the Offaly Hospice Foundation Prof Humphrey O'Connor says the cost of a Specialist Palliative Care Unit could reach €10 million.

"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," Prof O'Connor tells the Offaly Independent.

"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 argued.

"At a time of increasing demand for Specialist Palliative Care and Hospice Services the Midlands remains the only region in the country without a Specialist Palliative Care Unit and patients are missing out.

"At present hospice care in the Midlands is largely provided as a home care service in the community with backup using a number of single hospice beds in the three general hospitals and community hospitals.

"The excellence of the home care service is widely acknowledged. 

"Too often however in the absence of a Specialist Hospice Unit patients in need of end of life or crisis care end up enduring admission through overcrowded Accident and Emergency departments to general hospital beds.

"National surveys show the rates of death of hospice patients in general hospital beds is higher in the Midlands than the national average.

- Read more in this week's edition of the Offaly Independent