€11.5m palliative care unit lies idle

A PALLIATIVE care unit built two years ago at a cost of €11.5 million is lying idle, it has emerged.

Labour’s Jan O’Sullivan said Milford Hospice in Limerick was one of a number of new facilities not being used due to the Government’s failure to sanction money to pay staff.

“It’s a perfect example of the lack of coherence and absence of joined-up thinking that is bedeviling the health services.

“It makes absolutely no sense from a health and economic point of view to spend substantial amounts of taxpayers’ money on developing these facilities and then leaving them lying idle for want of staff. This would be the equivalent of a family buying a new car and then leaving it sitting outside the house, because petrol is too expensive,” the party’s health spokeswoman said.

She said facilities such as those at Milford would help reduce waiting lists.

Chief executive of Milford Care Centre, Pat Quinlan said the unit was completed in December 2008, and up to 40 staff would be needed to run it. “The opening of this unit is in the HSE National Service Plan for 2010. We’re currently engaging with the HSE to try to achieve that. We’re working to find a formula to make it operational.”

Up to €7m of the unit’s cost came from donations.

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