ANGER has been expressed at the suspension of children’s hospice care services at ‘Horizon West’ Children’s Hospice in Killadeas due to a shortage of nurses.
This is despite relentless efforts in recent months by the Northern Ireland Hospice (NIH) to hire nurses including eight separate, highly publicised recruitment drives.
The NIH says insufficient numbers of trained paediatric nurses have come forward for selection, forcing them to suspend services for now, which have been operating locally since 2012.
The move means that local children currently receiving Hospice care will have to travel over 90 miles away to the ‘Horizon House’ Children’s Hospice in Newtownabbey, County Antrim for what the NIH says will be “supported family short breaks”.
NI Hospice chief executive Heather Weir says she is “saddened and disappointed” that the shortage and availability of nurses has impeded the ability to continue delivering care in Fermanagh.
“It is with deep regret that I cannot bring better news concerning the delivery of services at this time. The safety of children in our care remains paramount and without an appropriately trained and competent care team, we cannot deliver short breaks or day care in this region.”
She added: “Our team of community nurses will continue to provide palliative and end of life care to all those who need our support in patients’ own homes, working in partnership with other healthcare professionals to deliver high quality, comprehensive care to those with life-limiting and terminal conditions.
“We wish to express our gratitude to our passionate support groups, fundraisers and the public for their continued support for the wider care services provided in the local community and at hospice.”
The NIH Board of Trustees confirmed on Tuesday no further decisions will be taken regarding Horizon West “while exploratory partnership conversations are ongoing”.
It is expected that an update will be available in early 2018.
Local MP Michelle Gildernew said that the decision to suspend Horizon West respite services for critically ill children is a huge blow to families relying on palliative care.
“These children and their families are dealing with incredibly difficult illnesses, and every effort must be made to avoid placing them under increased stress,” she said.
Ulster Unionist Cllr Howard Thornton told the Herald: “It would be a shame for wider society, but especially for the individuals and families who use the facility and organisation if there was any reduction or removal of the service.”