NI Children's Hospice: North Belfast MLA calls for funding shortfall to be met
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The Glengormley-based Hospice provides specialist palliative care to more than 350 babies, children, and their families on an annual basis.
Due to rising costs, the charitble organisation has announced that it is to reduce their present in-house seven bed capacity to six from Monday to Friday and to just three beds on a Saturday and Sunday.
Highlighting the importance of the Horizon House facility and the support services provided by the charity, Mr Brett explained: "The Children's Hospice delivers an invaluable service to children and families right across Northern Ireland and I'm very proud that the charity has its home here in north Belfast.
"In very difficult personal circumstances, the Hospice is on hand providing support, care and comfort for those with life-limiting and life-threatening conditions. The high regard in which these services and the staff who provide them are held is testament to the incredible role the organisation has played in many people's lives.
“Whilst it is important to stress the Hospice's assurance that the number of children being supported will remain unaffected, it is understandably concerning for families that bed capacity could be reduced and the impact this may have on the frequency and availability of overnight respite care available to them in future.
“At a time of competing financial pressures, it is right that public spending is prioritised where it is needed most. The ability to deliver the bed and staffing provision required at our Children's Hospice should always be one of those priorities.
“I have tabled an urgent question in the Assembly to the Health Minister on this matter and join with many others in our community in strongly appealing to him to ensure the funding shortfall is met to maintain capacity."
Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice is the only service of its type in Northern Ireland, supporting babies, children, and their families through a range of children’s services, including antenatal support, supported short breaks, to give families much-needed respite and the chance to recharge, bereavement support services for families that have experienced loss of a child as well as community services to help care for life-limited children in their own homes.
A Hospice spokesperson explained: “Northern Ireland Hospice requires more than £20 million annually to provide its crucial services. Our Children's Hospice plays a pivotal role in delivering these services. In 2022/23, it took over £20.1m – an increase of £2.1m from the previous year.
“The majority of Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice funding comes from the generosity and kindness of the local community. This year, we are facing severe financial challenges due to the current economic climate.
"Our energy costs have doubled in the last year and the cost-of-living crisis has increased costs of other essential supplies such as clinical supplies, housekeeping supplies, catering as well as other costs such as insurance and security.