Press Release

Minister launches Report on Palliative Care

The Minister for Health and Children, Mr Micheál Martin TD, today (4th October 2001) launched the Report of the National Advisory Committee on Palliative Care. The Report is a comprehensive examination of Palliative Care Services now and into the future. Government has approved the Report and it is intended to implement the recommendations over a 5 to 7 year timeframe in the context of the forthcoming National Health Strategy.

The National Advisory Committee was asked to make recommendations on the development and organisation of an integrated palliative care service in all its facets, in-patient, home care, day care and outpatients services and furthermore to make recommendations on staffing, education, training and any other matters which relate to palliative care.

“It is my Department´s intention that this document will form the foundation stone in the further development of palliative care services in Ireland. As such I have allocated a further£3m (€3.8m), bringing the total additional funding for 2001 to £5.63m (€7.15m) and total State investment in Palliative Care Services to approximately £20m (€25.4m). With this latest allocation my Department has signalled to Health Boards a number of items which are detailed in the Report and which will be significant to the future development of palliative care services,” said the Minister.

Among the Report´s recommendations are that each region should have a specialist palliative care unit. Such units will act as a specialist resource for the delivery of palliative care services in the hospital and in all care settings across the region. The Report makes recommendations on estimated bed number requirements for these units. There are also comprehensive recommendations on how palliative care services in all settings should be staffed.

The Report also underlines the particular needs of specialist palliative care settings in relation to physical structure and environment. It recommends that an Expert Group on Design Guides for Specialist Palliative Care Settings be established. The Minister announced that this Group has been established and has already commenced its deliberations. My Department is also examining the Report´s recommendations on bed number requirements.

The Minister thanked the members of the Committee for their hard work and dedication in completing this important task and congratulated them on a fine Report. In particular, the Minister thanked the Committee´s Chairperson, Dr Tony O´Brien. The Minister commended the work of all involved in the palliative care field, the Sisters of Charity, healthcare professionals and the voluntary sector.

“I am fully committed to encouraging every possible co-operation between public and private health sectors, voluntary organisations and local communities. It is more important than ever to combine the respective efforts of the voluntary and statutory sectors with a view to developing hospice and palliative care services to meet the challenges of the future,” concluded the Minister.