South Westmeath Hospice vows to maintain pressure campaign on HSE after beds plan shelved

The South Westmeath Hospice group has vowed to maintain its campaign for services in Athlone after a meeting with the Minister for Health on Tuesday.

Simon Harris met with TDs Peter Burke and Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran as well as the hospice committee members to discuss plans revealed last week by the HSE to close the hospice and move its two palliative care beds into the St Vincent’s Care Centre building.

The Minister gave a commitment yesterday that he would direct the HSE not to proceed with the plan and that he understood why the hospice committee would feel angry at the HSE.

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In a statement issued after the meeting, the committee claims it is pleased to see the plan shelved, but now wants a letter of guarantee honored, and better engagement with the HSE over hospice services in the region.

Statement on behalf of the South Westmeath Hospice Committee
Members of South Westmeath Hospice along with Minister Kevin Boxer Moran and Deputy Peter Burke met with Minister of Health Simon Harris today, 3rd September. Clare Lennon, Chairperson of the South Westmeath Hospice committee, outlined the sequence of events leading up to the meeting with the HSE on August 28th, when their proposal to close the hospice unit was put forward.
Minister Harris stated the following:
1. The committee and the supporters of the South Westmeath Hospice had every right to feel aggrieved at the manner in which the HSE has acted.
2. Whatever the intention of the HSE was it had proceeded in the wrong way.
3. He has directed the HSE not to proceed with the proposal.
4. His disappointment at the lack of collaboration between the HSE and the South Westmeath Hospice committee.
5. His acknowledgement of the extraordinary level of funding provided by the community and praised their achievements to date.
6. His commitment to visiting the unit in the near future to see first-hand the facility.
7. He has directed his official to make contact with the National Lead for Palliative Care to begin engagement with the three hospice committees in Longford Westmeath.

The South Westmeath Hospice set out three objectives at the start of this campaign:
1. To remove the current proposal.
2. To have the letter of guarantee honoured.
3. To have South Westmeath Hospice Foundation acknowledged by the HSE as a key stakeholder in the delivery of Palliative care and to engage constructively with us.

The South Westmeath Hospice Committee has achieved the first of these objectives and now need to move on to realise the two others.
“The campaign is not over. The committee is happy with the first step however, the proposals for a new unit at Clonbrusk must mirror what is currently provided in the Hospice Unit, referral pathways need to be clarified and an appropriate admission policy will have to be put in place. The Committee will work hard to deliver these objectives and secure the future of the South Westmeath Hospice.” Chairperson of the South Westmeath Hospice Committee Clare Lennon.
The committee asks that people continue to sign the petition that is on their Facebook page.
The committee would like to take this opportunity to thank both the local elected representatives and the members of the public for their support and request your continued commitment. Please check our Facebook page for further updates.