Palliative care services are experiencing increasing demands due to the changing demographics of our ageing population and increasing patient and public expectations, particularly for support for chronic non-malignant diseases.
Government policy on Palliative Care is contained in the Report of the National Advisory Committee on Palliative Care (2001) and the HSE Medium Term Framework for Palliative Care Services (2009 – 2013) and (for children) Palliative Care for Children with Life-limiting Conditions in Ireland - A National Policy.
Palliative care is delivered in a variety of settings from specialist palliative units, to acute hospitals, and in the community. Input is sought from multidisciplinary teams of health care professionals at the level that is most appropriate for the needs of the patient at any particular time. The objective always is to respond to the physical, psychological, social and spiritual needs of patients and to achieve the highest possible quality of life for the patient and family
Although funding pressures have intensified across all service areas in recent years, the HSE continues to work with voluntary and local groups to deliver the best possible service for those who need palliative care. In 2012, approx 35,738 people received specialist home care palliative services and 4,274 people received specialist in-patient care.
The HSE National Service Plan 2013 provides funding of €72m for Palliative Care, exclusive of the palliative care that is provided in acute hospitals, on approximately 170 palliative care support beds or on palliative home care packages.
The HSE has committed to the following access targets for 2013:
- 92% of specialist inpatient beds provided within 7 days
- 98% of specialist inpatient beds provided within one month
The most recent HSE Performance Report for 2013 indicates that to March, this target was exceeded with 94% of those seeking specialist palliative inpatient beds receiving this service within 7 days, and 99% receiving the service within one month.
My Department and the HSE will continue to work to ensure that available resources are used in the most effective way possible to give those who need hospice or other palliative care the services that they need and deserve.