Discussions about the services have been fruitless so far.
Local HSE officials in Westmeath are being called on to engage meaningfully and respectfully with South Westmeath Hospice.
Fine Gael's Longford/Westmeath TD and Junior Minister Peter Burke is making the comments as the ongoing discourse over maintaining the local hospice service continues.
It's been ongoing for almost two years.
Statement in full to Midlands103:
“Regretfully, this partnership is not in place for residents locally. Nearly two years since the local HSE tried to close the current unit there is still no agreement as to a way forward. The efforts by the voluntary committee have meant hours of meetings, briefings, and research. I commend them for their work . We have had meeting after meeting, but a path forward has not been agreed on and this time has been largely wasted due to inaction and disagreement.
“The fundamental error, I believe, was the failure of the local HSE to consult with the local Hospice group prior to any plans being made. The engagement with the South Westmeath Hospice group came too late to influence changes that would be acceptable to the group. Despite conceding a lot, it appeared an agreement was in sight last October. The Committee and the public representatives left the meeting understanding we finally had secured consensus, but unfortunately the HSE rowed back on this.
“I now call on the HSE to engage in a meaningful and respectful way with South Westmeath Hospice. It is not in any party’s interest to enter a legal battle.
“The palliative care approach positions the person and their family at the centre of decision-making. Within current HSE structures Palliative Care is located in the Primary Care Division, and requires operational working arrangements across Divisions, Community Health Organisations (CHO) and Hospital Groups. The benefits of palliative care support beds, particularly in terms of the experience of patients and families, has a proven record of excellence in the South Westmeath Hospice. It is not acceptable to have this service depleted.
“Ultimately, it will be the patients who suffer as a result of these delays and changes, and this situation is intolerable, especially when you think of the situations and families who find themselves needing these services at the end of their days”.