Wednesday, 16 May 2012
Dáil Éireann Debate
42. Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly asked the Minister for Health the current state of reforms to palliative care services; if he will explain the discrepancy between the provision and funding of palliative care services in counties in which good practice is followed, such as Limerick, and counties such as Wicklow, in which palliative care services are inadequate; his plans and targets for equalising service levels between counties or regions. [16913/12]
Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Kathleen Lynch): The Health Service Executive acknowledges that historical differences exist between regions in the provision of Palliative Care services. The HSE’s Palliative Care Services — Five Year/ Medium Term Development Framework was published in 2009 in order to detail the required actions and initiatives necessary to address the gaps in palliative care service provision.
The Executive is currently engaged in a process of increasing and developing capacity within existing resources and developing skills in community care and care of the elderly settings specifically in relation to palliative care services. It is also taking the opportunity afforded by integration to identify ways of enabling the delivery of these agreed national priorities. The HSE aims to ensure that patients with life-limiting conditions and their families can easily access a level of palliative care services that is appropriate to their needs, regardless of age, care setting or diagnosis.
It should be noted that expected activity in the 2012 Service Plan indicates waiting times for access to in-patient specialist palliative care will be broadly similar in Dublin Mid-Leinster (DML) (including Wicklow) and the West (which includes Limerick). In the West it is expected that 86% of patients would have access within seven days while the corresponding figure is 83% in DML. Figures are also comparable for access within seven days to community services. The HSE Regional Service Plan 2012 for DML indicates that given the cost pressure within the Palliative Care Services in DML during 2012 the priority will be to maximise available resources to provide the best possible services for care recipients.
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