Lottery Funds for Health Charity Reduced by 60%

The National Lottery funds provided by the Department of Health to the charity that promotes organ donation in Ireland have been reduced by 60 per cent this year, the Irish Times reports.

The Irish Kidney Association said that, as a result, it has been forced to make staff redundant and scale back its services in an attempt to address the €300,000 shortfall in its funding.

The association, which receives its primary funding from the Health Service Executive, said the Lottery funding it received this year, to purchase and distribute donor cards and promote the need for people to donate organs, fell to €200,000, similar to what it was provided with in 2000.

The figure is less than a third of the amount it was given in 2007 and less than half of what it received last year.

According to its annual report, the National Lottery raised a record €267.8 million for good causes last year, up from €245 million in 2007.

About 600 people are awaiting a kidney transplant in Ireland and the association said this figure could be as as high as 1,000 if there was a reasonable chance people would get a transplant.

A total of 81 deceased donors provided 214 organs for transplant in Ireland last year.

Kidney association chief executive Mark Murphy said the funding was initially cut by 90 per cent to €50,000, but Minister for Health Mary Harney increased it to €200,000 following a meeting where he outlined the amount the association had spent.

“It came as a big shock as we had already spent a significant sum,” Mr Murphy said. “But in fairness to the Minister, she brought it up to the level of what we had spent after we met her and explained our position.”

Mr Murphy said the fallback in lottery funding, coupled with a reduction in donations from the public, meant all aspects of the association’s service had been affected this year. Two of the association’s staff had been made redundant, the remaining staff had had to take pay reductions, while some had been put on shorter hours. “Fundamentally we had to do this because we wanted to be in a position to continue the core principle of our service, which is public awareness of organ donation campaigns. “Our support centre in Beaumont Hospital has been affected, our development officer is gone, our support magazine is affected and our counselling service is affected,” he said.

Attempts to contact the Department of Health were not successful.

Original source: The Irish Times