| 10.4°C Dublin

Scandal of €22m hospice lying idle

THIS state-of-the-art hospice that cost €22m to build is lying empty because of a funding shortfall. The hold-up in opening the 24-bed facility was today described as a "tragedy".

The hospice, which was strongly supported by the late Brian Lenihan, cannot get a commitment for money from health chiefs.

"It's a tragedy," fundraising committee member Fr Dan Joe O'Mahony told the Herald

"The issue is, as you can guess," Fr O'Mahony said, referring to the delay by the HSE in providing cash.

He praised former Finance Minister and local TD Brian Lenihan for his backing for the facility.

"Brian Lenihan got us the site. If not for him, we would have no hospice. Brian was brilliant. We miss him, I can tell you," Fr O'Mahony said.

The need for a hospice in the Dublin north-west region was identified a number of years ago.

The Government eventually chose a 6.8-acre site on the Abbotstown lands for the facility and it was built last year using bank loans taken out by the St Francis group, which also has a facility in Raheny.

St Francis CEO Ethel McKenna said the Dublin 15 venture is only opened two days a week for day care and outpatients.

The hospice has been in talks with the HSE about funding the inpatient facility but there has been no resolution.

"The need for beds becomes very apparent once you have people attending the hospice at all," Ms McKenna said.

St Francis patients in Dublin 15 who need a bed still have to come as far as Raheny.

"That is why we built in Blanchardstown -- to avoid that situation. The building of the hospice was agreed with the HSE. We did not go on a solo run," Ms McKenna said.

The HSE blamed "budget constraints" for the delay.

Local councillors Kieran Dennison (FG) and David McGuinness (FF) both insisted health chiefs must provide the necessary funding.

"The fact that it is lying idle is a national shame," Mr McGuinness said.

St Francis Hospice in Raheny has been providing specialist palliative care services to the people of north Dublin city and county for 22 years.

Since September 2001, it has been providing services for the Dublin north- west area.

"The community palliative care team is based in the hospice in Blanchardstown and provides hospice day care and out-patient services for two days per week," a HSE spokeswoman said.

"Revenue funding of €193,000 was given in 2011 for the commencement of these services and has increased for a full year into 2012 also," she said.

She added: "Further funding for the provision of an additional 24 beds for specialist palliative care within the overall catchment area of St Francis Hospice, Dublin, has been sought but as of yet this has not been secured due to current budget constraints.

"St Francis Hospice and the Health Service Executive will continue to work in partnership to achieve the overall objective of provision of comprehensive palliative care services throughout north Dublin city and county."