Kenny accused of reneging on Galway Hospice funding promise
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has been accused of reneging on a promise he made over a year ago to bridge the funding gap at the Galway Hospice and prevent threatened bed closures.
Mr Kenny made a commitment last February that he would honour the dying wish of former Connacht Tribune editor John Cunningham, who had been a director of Galway Hospice Foundation, to ensure ongoing funding shortfalls were sorted out at the facility and provide capital funding for an expansion. It was a renewal of a promise he had made to Mr Cunningham when he visited him at his hospice bed three months earlier.
While Mr Cunningham’s wife, Nuala, and family have expressed their “huge disappointment” at Mr Kenny’s lack of action on this issue, Seán O’Healy, chief executive of Galway Hospice Foundation, yesterday spoke of some “very positive signals of late” and said it was clear that there was a strong political will to ensure that all of the issues affecting Galway Hospice would be resolved fully.
Galway Hospice has suffered from a historical core funding deficit over the years and currently it receives about 70 per cent of its total funding requirements from the HSE.
The HSE funds the inpatient unit (about 96 per cent of inpatient costs) at Renmore in Galway city, but does not fund its vital homecare or daycare services.
“Galway Hospice inpatient unit has not increased in size since first built in 1995, whereas the demand for services has multiplied several times,” Mr O’Healy said. “We are doing our best to meet the demand for homecare services [we can attempt to do this, because we fund it ourselves], but the demand for beds cannot be met.”
Mr O’Healy said a number of very high-level meetings (including with the Minister for Health and the Taoiseach) had taken place in the past year, with Galway Hospice representatives.
At these meetings, the political goodwill towards Galway Hospice had been very evident, he said, and some very positive signals had been given that matters would be resolved.
The interim expansion plans at Galway Hospice involve the development of six additional beds, the provision of new rehabilitation facilities, family accommodation, and enhanced daycare and outpatient facilities.
A significant enhancement of homecare provision will also take place.
Longer term, it is planned to relocate all services by building a 26-bed facility on a greenfield site, with room for further expansion in the future.