We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

Hospice care via Shutterstock
hospice care

2,500 patients a year are denied access to hospice services

There should be 450 hospice beds in the country. Today, there are only 155 hospice beds available.

AREAS WITH LIMITED access to hospice care have more cancer deaths in hospitals.

According to a report by the Irish Hospice Foundation, around 2,500 patients each year are denied access to the hospice care they need because of a lack of hospice services nationwide. This is in spite of a national policy since 2001 that promised to provide one hospice bed for every 10,000 people.

Going by current population figures, there should be 450 hospice beds in the country. Today, there are only 155 hospice beds available.

Limerick, Clare, North Tipperary, Donegal, Sligo and Leitrim are the only regions which are compliant with the national strategy. While, counties Louth, Meath, Cavan, Monaghan, Laois, Offaly, Westmeath, Longford, Waterford, Wexford, Kilkenny, Carlow, Wicklow, Mayo and Kerry have no hospice inpatient units.

The ‘ Access to Specialist Palliative Care Services and Place of Death in Ireland’ report tells us there is a significant reduction in the number of deaths in acute hospitals in the areas where hospice beds are available.


Of all deaths in hospitals, the percentage of people dying from cancer is generally lower in regions where spending on palliative care is in line with national policy.

Sharon Foley, CEO of the IHF said it isn’t fair that “in some areas of the country, patients at their most vulnerable are being denied access to services simply because of where they live.  Not having access to inpatient hospice beds has a critical impact on whether a patient dies in an acute hospital or not”.

According to Dr Kathy McLoughlin, who was part of the report, hospice services can provide real savings to the healthcare system and meet the needs of patients.

“They also show improved length of life, better symptom control and patient and carer experience,” McLoughlin added.

Report: Irish hospice care high, but regional inequalities persist>
More: Senators ask: Why won’t the State set aside money for terminally ill children?>

Your Voice
Readers Comments
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.