The Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has announced that four adult hospices in Ireland will be fully state-funded from February next year.

These hospices are Marymount University Hospital and Hospice in Cork, Milford Care Centre in Limerick, Galway Hospice, and St. Francis Hospice in Dublin.

Together, these facilities have about 1,300 employees.

They will be redesignated from Section 39 service level agreements to Section 38 agreements with the Health Service Executive (HSE).

This redesignation aims to provide a sustainable model of care for adult specialist palliative care services.

The government will allocate €18.6m ($20.43m) to support this transition.

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Commenting on the redesignation, Donnelly said: “It means that all adult hospices in our country will now be fully state-funded. This is a significant step towards our goal of providing universal access to palliative care.”

He further noted: “The voluntary hospice sector has worked tirelessly down through the years, in partnership with local communities, to expand the network of hospice services around the country. The redesignation will provide financial and staffing sustainability to ensure that these providers of adult specialist palliative care services can continue their vital work. It will strengthen their core services and mean, for example, that fundraising by the hospices will no longer be required to cover payroll or other operational costs such as electricity and heating.”

Approximately, about 70% of inpatient and 74% of community adult specialist palliative care services are currently offered by voluntary hospices.

Following redesignation of the hospices to the Section 38 status with full state funding, their employees will be recognised as public servants.