Northern Ireland

Robin Swann asks officials to look urgently at children’s hospice plans to reduce beds

The hospice in Glengormley, Co Antrim, provides specialist palliative care for more than 350 babies, children and their families every year.

A view of the Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice in Belfast, which is to reduce its beds capacity
The Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice in Belfast, which is to reduce its beds capacity (Liam McBurney/PA)

Health minister Robin Swann has asked officials to look “urgently” at planned bed cuts at the Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice.

A spokesperson for Mr Swann said he wanted to determine the best way forward before the end of the week.

The hospice in Glengormley, Co Antrim – which provides specialist palliative care for more than 350 babies, children and their families every year, said on Tuesday that it would have to reduce some services due to a “loss of government funding”.

The charity has also said it is facing financial challenges due to the cost-of-living crisis.

The organisation is consulting with families and staff who may be impacted.



Health minister Robin Swann said he wanted to determine a way forward before the end of the week
Chloe Mitchell missing Health minister Robin Swann said he wanted to determine a way forward before the end of the week

A spokesperson for the Department of Health said: “The department recognises the vital role of hospices and has consistently resourced them to help deliver the critical services they provide.

“The minister has asked his officials to look urgently at the issues raised, to engage with the hospice and to provide a clear evidence base so he can determine the best way forward before the end of the week.”

A spokesperson for the NI Children’s Hospice said: “We very much appreciate Robin Swann’s clear interest in our funding position.

“He and his departmental officials were quick to make contact with us to explore a way forward that ensures the sustainability of the service.”

The hospice had said it might reduce capacity from seven beds seven days a week to six beds Monday-Friday, and three at the weekend.

The cost of running one bed is approximately £600,000 per year.

The Department of Health provided core funding of £1.6 million to the hospice in 2023/24 for a range of services.

It is understood that while there has been no reduction in recurrent funding from the department, the hospice was advised last year that an additional £170,000 of non-recurrent funding would no longer be available.

The hospice said on Tuesday that it was looking at potentially decreasing staff numbers and may require a new working model.

However, it has insisted the long-term sustainability of the service will be safeguarded and the number of children and families being supported will remain unaffected.

The hospice is the only service of its type in Northern Ireland, supporting babies, children, and their families through a range of services, including antenatal support and supported short breaks.

It requires more than £20 million annually to provide its services.

The charity said it was facing “severe financial challenges due to the current economic climate”.

It stated: “Our energy costs have doubled in the last year and the cost-of-living crisis has increased costs of other essential supplies such as clinical supplies, housekeeping supplies, catering as well as other costs such as insurance and security.”