Irish Health Charities Express Funding Concerns

The Irish Medical News (IMN) has reported on the serious funding problems currently being faced by a number of health charities. These funding problems stem from a mixture of Government funding cuts to a decline in fundraising events income and they apply to health charities both big and small.

Speaking to IMN, The Irish Heart Foundation’s (IHF) Chief Executive, Michael O’Shea, said that “the Foundation’s ability to raise money for heart health and resuscitation programmes, the national patient helpline, and cardiovascular research have already been affected”.
The IHF already saw its annual income decrease by 4.2% in 2007, leaving it with a €4.7 million euro operating budget for the year.

Similarly the Irish Kidney Association (IKA) has also said that its Government funding had decreased from the €2.8 million it received last year. This was in part due to the decrease in Lottery Funding coming from the Department of Health – representing the first year that Lottery funding had failed to exceed the previous years total – which went from €650,000 in 2007 to €500,000 in 2008. The IKA Chief Executive, Mark Murphy, told IMN that this “reduction in lottery money has impacted on the Association’s ability to advertise for organ donor awareness.”

There is also much concern in the sector about how smaller health charities will fare in the economic crisis. For example, IMN quoted the Irish Raynaud’s and Scleroderma Society as saying that “the worsening economic climate means that fundraising supplies will dry up”. The Society has already been forced to scale back its patient services due to the a reduction in the amount of money being raised by funding events.

The Irish Wheelchair Association has also expressed concern in recent days that its budget may be cut by €500,000 once the HSE 2009 budget is finalised. Speaking to the Irish Times, its Chief Executive, Kathleen McLoughlin, said that “we are expecting a cut in the region of 1 per cent plus. It costs €50 million a year currently to run the organisation”. Whilst praising the HSE’s support for the association, Ms McLoughlin also warned of a “nightmare scenario” in which “we will have to cut back our services”.

On a more positive note however, Cystic Fibrosis Ireland has declared that it has no plans in place to cut back on any of its current services. Similarly, the Irish Cancer Society has said that it has not yet seen any negative impact from the economic downturn and that it is “too early” to tell what funding will be like for 2009.