Children's Palliative and End of Life care must not be determined by geography
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD and the party’s leader in the north Michelle O’Neill MLA, hosted a meeting at Stormont Castle on Friday with Donegal parent led campaign group “Our Children, Our Voice".
The group made the journey from Donegal with Sinn Féin Senator Padraig Mac Lochlainn to explore an all-Ireland/cross border solution to the distressing situation being faced by children in need of palliative care and treatment for life limiting conditions.
Parents Ashling Nibbs and Gina Grant shared their harrowing stories of parents forced to travel to Dublin to access end of life care, palliative care and respite care when the same care might be accessed in the north by way of a short car journey.
Teachta Adams stated:
“Friday’s meeting was the second in a series of such meetings. Sinn Féin supports the Donegal families who have been battling for over three years for adequate paediatric palliative and respite care for children with life limiting conditions in the Donegal area. Under current arrangements they have to make an eight-hour round trip to access chemo treatment. They are being forced to take desperately ill children for palliative respite away from their home and their families when they should be able to get these treatments nearer home.
"In the absence of the Dublin government providing the services needed in Donegal one other solution that has to be explored quickly is of sharing services north and south. The provision of cancer services at Altnagelvin Hospital for the whole of the north west of the island is a model that works. I intend to raise this issue with Minister for Health Simon Harris and An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar."
Commenting on her meeting with the families Michelle O’Neill MLA stated:
“I want to commend the courage and bravery of Ashling and Gina and the other parents. Their tenacity in the face of governmental failure to provide a necessary service is amazing.
"The sad reality is that in the north around 150 children die each year and some 1,300 children live with life limiting conditions. It is vital that treatment services are created that fit the family.
"When Minister for Health in the Executive I launched Paediatric Strategies for Children’s palliative and End of Life care ( 2016-2026). This strategy provides for extending Paediatric networks outside of the north to explore access to specialised services on an all-island basis.
"I gave a firm assurance to Ashling and Gina that Sinn Féin will continue to advocate for and pursue the establishment of all-Ireland health initiatives, including the provision of palliative care and respect services for children.”