18 May 2022

Councillor calls for ‘fair and transparent’ funding for hospices

Helena Dallat O'Driscoll says they received 'outstanding' care during her late father's illness.

Councillor calls for ‘fair and transparent’ funding for hospices

The daughter of the late John Dallat MLA has written an open letter to NI Health Minister Robin Swann calling for hospice staff to receive pay parity with their NHS counterparts.

Causeway Coast and Glens councillor, Helena Dallat O’Driscoll said the staff deserve recognition for their ‘world-class’ medical care.

“Dad was my first great loss and, after his terminal diagnosis, it was hard to fathom the magnitude of what we were about to face,” she said.

“However, having an outstanding hospice nurse there to walk us through the experience enabled us all to learn invaluable lessons.

“With the help of our hospice nurse, Ciara, we quickly learned about symptom assessment and pain relief but also the preciousness of life and how to let someone with precious little time left ‘live’ as fully as possible until the end.”

Councillor Dallat O’Driscoll said hospice care was a ‘vitally important’ part of the care system.

“These staff deserve recognition for the world-class medical care and emotional support that they provide not just to patients but to their families,” she said.

“I welcome wholeheartedly the pay deal that was agreed for our NHS nurses this year and I also believe that it is essential that hospices are able to offer similar pay in order to attract and develop high calibre staff.

“Funding for these services has not kept pace with the increasing demand. Covid-19 has already put communities under tremendous financial pressure and waiting lists and bed closures are not acceptable, especially at the end of life.”

Cllr Dallat O’Driscoll ended the open letter by calling on the Minister to ensure hospice staff are rewarded with the pay they deserve.

She said: “I would be grateful if you could ensure that our hospice staff are rewarded with the pay they deserve and that all families that need their services can continue to access high quality care when they are at their most vulnerable.

SDLP spokesperson for Health, Colin McGrath MLA, said pay parity for hospice staff would be a ‘powerful tribute’ to the late John Dallat.

“I warmly welcome this intervention by Councillor Dallat O’Driscoll,” he said.

“Fair pay for our hospice workers would also be a powerful tribute to our much loved and missed colleague, John Dallat MLA, and I urge the Minister to give it consideration.”

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