TERMINALLY-ILL patients in Co Louth are denied access to hospice inpatient care each year because of the lack of services in the North East, according to a new report.
The report published by the Irish Hospice Foundation (IHF) revealed that the North East (Louth, Meath, Cavan, Monaghan) is one of three regions with no hospice service.
IHF chief executive Sharon Foley said in some areas of the country patients at their most vulnerable are being denied access to services simply because of where they live.
The Midlands (Laois, Offaly, Westmeath, Longford) and the South East (Waterford, Wexford, Kilkenny and Carlow) – also have no hospice service while Wicklow, Mayo and Kerry have no hospice inpatient unit.
An estimated 6,000 people died in a hospice last year but areas with limited access to a hospice recorded more cancer deaths in hospital.
The report found home care services in areas where palliative care is under-resourced was better than in regions with hospice beds, with the number of home care nurses per patient population in the North East, the Midlands and the South East higher than the national average.
Cancer is Ireland’s second biggest killer, accounting for more than 8,000 deaths – more then a quarter of the death toll.
The IHF said going by current population figures, there should be 450 hospice beds in the country but only 155 hospice beds are available. Another 44 beds are ready in Blanchardstown and Cork but are not yet operational because of funding shortages.