Councillor Helena Dallat O’Driscoll, daughter of the late SDLP veteran, John Dallat MLA, has written an emotional plea to Health Minister, Robin Swann MLA, calling for fair and transparent funding for hospices to enable pay parity for hospice staff with their NHS counterparts.
In her letter to the Minister, the Causeway Coast and Glens councillor described the family’s “raw grief” but also the “immeasurable comfort” that they took from their belief that her father had the best possible quality of life in his final weeks. She attributes much of that comfort to the quality of care provided by the Northern Ireland Hospice community hospice staff.
Councillor Dallat O’Driscoll said:
“Our world was turned upside down with the news of dad’s terminal diagnosis. As many families will sadly know, that news hits even the strongest patient and their family like a truck. 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.
“Hospice care is a vitally important part of our care system and these staff deserve recognition for the world-class medical care and emotional support that they provide not just to patients but also to their families.
“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 keep high calibre staff.
“As I outlined in my letter to Minister Swann, funding for our vital hospice services has not kept pace with demand. We urgently need a funding system that is fair and based on patient need. We must reward our hospice staff with the pay they deserve and ensure that all families that need their services can continue to access high quality care when they are at their most vulnerable.”
SDLP Health Spokesperson, Colin McGrath MLA added:
“I warmly welcome this intervention by Councillor Dallat O’Driscoll. 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.”