Eight out of ten (82%) of charitable hospices surveyed by Hospice UK are planning a deficit budget this financial year according to figures issued today by the charity.
Hospice UK says funding for the UK’s 200 charitable hospices is on a knife-edge and that care for dying people needs to stop being so reliant on local fundraising, pointing out that earlier this year two hospices were forced to close and others have had to cut services or jobs.
Last month the Government announced a £25million cash injection for charitable hospices and palliative care providers in England. At the time the Prime Minister also promised to conduct a more detailed review of funding for end of life care.
Hospice UK is now calling on the Government to follow through on its earlier commitment and bring this forward. The charity says that funding for the end of life care system as a whole, including hospices, is ‘broken’ and that a sustainable solution needs to be developed urgently, especially to meet fast growing demand for this care.
Earlier research by Hospice UK shows that more than 100,000 people are unable to get the support they need at the end of life across all care settings, while more than 40% of care home residents, many of whom have complex needs associated with the end of life, are forced to pay for their care under current rules.
Charitable hospices need to raise around two thirds of their income themselves, largely from public donations, community fundraising and business sponsorship. Hospices for adults in England on average receive only a third of their funding from the NHS and for many this income has been flat-lining in recent years. Children’s hospices, Hospice UK says, receive even less from the NHS.
Tracey Bleakley, Chief Executive of Hospice UK, said:
“We are gravely concerned about the financial situation of many charitable hospices. This is symptomatic of how the funding model for end of life care as a whole is broken. It no longer reflects the complexity of modern end of life care and what people actually need, nor the immense growing demand for this care.
“In the twenty-first century, end of life care should not have to rely solely on the goodwill and charity of local people and hinge on how many second-hand clothes and books are sold in hospice shops. We would not accept this dicey approach for maternity care services, we should not accept it for the critically important care provided at the end of people’s lives.
“The Government needs to review the current funding model for end of life care urgently, otherwise more hospices will be forced to cut services and consequently dying people and their families, will be denied the crucial care they desperately need.”
Hospice UK’s call to the Government comes as it prepares to mark Hospice Care Week, which runs this week, from 7-13 October. Its theme this year is ‘This Is What It Takes’, as it celebrates the work of tens of thousands of many different staff and volunteers that help provide compassionate care free of charge to dying people and their families.
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