Walk takes place on St Stephen's Day every year in Clonaslee Co Laois in aid of Laois Hospice.
The Irish Hospice Foundation has urged compromise and appealed to stakeholders to find common ground over the building of a hospice centre in Tullamore.
However, the foundation declined to comment on confirmation from the HSE that State funds will not be used to build such a unit. The HSE will only commit to the running costs of a centre for palliative care which it is estimated will cost €10 million to build.
The national charity welcomed last week's offer of €500,000 from Offaly Hospice to kickstart a fundraising effort to build a centre for the Midlands attached to Tullamore hospital.
However, Laois Hospice insists that the move does not change its position that funds raised in Laois would be used to pay primarily for home care for patients in the final stages of life.
The foundation responded.
“The IHF is aware of the position adopted by Laois Hospice and its focus on healthcare.
“In line with National Policy (in place since 2001), a Specialist Hospice Unit, serving all the peoples of Laois, Offaly, Longford and Westmeath would complement and support community delivered services - which is why we welcomed the announcement. There has been a need for a specialist unit in the Midlands for many years, it is the only region in the country without one.,” it said.
The IHF said the private approach to building a unit is not unusual.
“The public-private partnership approach has been the model that has seen the establishment of most of the hospices in Ireland. All of these projects need a catalyst to inspire and engage people – indeed much money has already been raised across the midlands by individual hospice groups and their supporters, yet no progress on the building programme has been made to date.
“By donating €500k from their fund, Offaly Hospice Foundation is demonstrating the leadership to kick start a project that will extend beyond Offaly. Hopefully, this will help to overcome the impasse that exists within the region on the project,” it said.
The statement said that both the IHF and specialist palliative care healthcare teams believe that the best model of care lies in a multidisciplinary approach where specialist units, acute hospitals and community delivered care teams work together and offer options for the best end of life outcome for the patient.
“This is what is planned for every other region in the country. We have welcomed the initiative to ‘kick start’ the Specialist Hospice Unit build project as that is a key missing piece of the puzzle. Such infrastructure across the country has been planned on a regional model and the Midlands Regional Hospital in Tullamore has been identified, by local healthcare and voluntary hospice teams, as the ideal location for a Unit to service the region, and that includes Laois as well as Longford, Westmeath and Offaly,” it said.
The national charity urged compromise.
“There are of course obstacles to be overcome and no infrastructure project that relies on a substantial investment of funds generated from the public is built without a degree of compromise.
“How it operates and how other current services can and will be supported by its presence is for the stakeholders to find agreement upon – and there is a responsibility on those stakeholders to find common ground and deliver a Specialist Hospice Unit which will be of huge benefit to all in the Midlands,” it said.
The Leinster Express asked the HSE if it would help fund the building of the unit with public funds.
“The HSE is committed to supporting the revenue costs of the centre which includes pay and non-pay,” it said.
As to whether this meant capital costs to cover construction costs a spokesperson replied.
“The HSE commits revenue funding,” said the brief statement.