Poots’ £2m lifeline to NI Hospice

Dilapidated north Belfast hospice, Somerton House, is one step closer to redevelopment, following an apparent pledge of £2m from Health Minster, Edwin Poots.

It is believed that Mr Poots offered £2m to hospice representatives during a private meeting of the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce on Thursday night.

The Department of Health Social Services and Public Safety would not confirm the offer, but a spokesperson said: “Due to budgetary constraints, no capital funding for the voluntary and community sector is available within the Department at present.

“However, the Minister has asked officials to look urgently at the possibility of introducing a capital grant scheme. The NI Hospice regional organisation currently receives Departmental core funding to support central administrative costs, amounting to £134,000 per annum.”

Having provided care for terminally ill patients at the premises for the last 30 years, the Northern Ireland Hospice was forced to transfer patients into a temporary facility at Whiteabbey Hospital on November 7, as the property did not meet clinical standards.