Northern Ireland

Funding for NI Children’s Hospice reinstated, but bed reductions remain

Funding that was withdrawn from the Northern Ireland Children's Hospice is to be reinstated
Funding that was withdrawn from the Northern Ireland Children's Hospice is to be reinstated (Getty Images)

Funding previously withdrawn from the Northern Ireland’s Children’s Hospice is to be reinstated, Robin Swann has said.

The newly re-elected health minister announced on Friday that £85,000 that had been cut from the budget in June 2023 will be returned.

But the funding news will not reverse a reduction in bed capacity at the children’s hospice, which was revealed by the charity that runs it earlier this week.

It had said it would have to reduce capacity from seven beds week-round to six beds Monday-Friday and three at the weekend due to a “loss of government funding”.

Robin Swann is to seek the nomination to run as the UUP candidate in South Antrim
Health minister Robin Swann (Liam McBurney/PA)

In a statement, Mr Swann said he had this week requested Department of Health officials to engage in “detailed discussions this week, including engagement with NI Hospice”.

“It is clear to me that the financial pressures facing NI Children’s Hospice (NICH) go much deeper than any reduction of departmental support,” he said.

“This reduction involved the ending last summer of an additional but temporary annual payment of £170,000.

“This decision was notified to the NICH in June 2023 and took effect from September 2023 - resulting in an £85,000 reduction in this financial year.

“I have today decided to reinstate this £85,000 funding for this year.

“This payment is in addition to the core annual funding of £1.6m which my department is providing directly to NICH this year.

“This core funding includes a £420,000 component which has not been recurrent, meaning it would have to be subject to confirmation each year.

“I can confirm that, going forward, this will be made recurrent, giving the Hospice greater certainty.”

But he added the children’s hospice had “advised my department that the restoration of the full £170,000 for this year will not lead to the reversal of the service reduction made public this week”.

A spokesperson for the children’s hospice said it welcomed Mr Swann’s announcement, but added that “many intricate issues the minister has addressed in his response we need time to analyse his proposals before we can provide a comprehensive response”.