Bed capacity to be reduced at Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice

The NI Children’s Hospice has announced that it is to reduce its beds capacity due to a loss of government funding.
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The development was confirmed today by the Glengormley-based facility, which provides specialist palliative care for more than 350 babies, children, and their families from across the province every year.

In a statement issued today (February 6), a spokesperson for the charity explained: “While the reduction is deeply regrettable and may potentially incur a decrease in staff numbers and a new working model, the long term sustainability of the service will be safeguarded and the number of children and families being supported will remain unaffected.

“The organisation is consulting with families who may be impacted and staff who may potentially be affected.

Horizon House, Glengormley. (Pic: Google).Horizon House, Glengormley. (Pic: Google).
Horizon House, Glengormley. (Pic: Google).

"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.

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“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.”

Grace Stewart, Acting Director of Children’s Hospice Service, says she profoundly regrets having to implement any reduction in capacity.

She said: “This decision, led by the need to ensure the long-term sustainability of our service, will impact bed numbers and availability.

"Given the loss of government funding for one of our beds, our intention is to run six beds Monday to Friday and three beds Saturday and Sunday: this is a change from our seven Beds, seven Nights model.

“Despite these challenges, our unwavering commitment to supporting children and their families remains.”

Antrim and Newtownabbey Alliance Party councillor Billy Webb MBE, serves as Hospice Vice President.

Speaking to the Newtownabbey Times, Cllr Webb stated: “This is a very unfortunate situation and is indicative of the poor state our health service, and a lack of proper funding, due to a long absence of the Assembly.

"Now that the Assembly is back, I hope there will be an urgent allocation of proper funding for the Hospice. I know the Hospice staff will continue to support those in need of care, and their families.''

Posting on social media platform X, North Belfast DUP MLA Phillip Brett commented: “I will be speaking to the Health Minister this morning to ensure we reserve these cuts.

"The Northern Ireland Hospice is a vital service, not just for north Belfast, but for everyone in Northern Ireland.

“Their services must be protected.”

Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice is the only service of its type in Northern Ireland, providing support for 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.

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