During May a media story on ITV News followed an investigation undertaken by Hospice UK, which revealed that hospices in the U.K. are facing a funding crisis, with an increasing demand and rising cost of end of life care, which isn’t being matched by government funding.
The survey found 1 in 3 hospices were being forced to cut services, while more than half (55%) either have, or plan to, delay or cancel the roll out of future plans to provide end of life care. And 90% of hospices saying they did not believe they had the resources to meet the rising demand.
For 89% of hospices who responded, the cost of providing end of life care had risen in the past two years, but had not been matched by increased funding from central government and 73% had seen their funding from their local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) frozen or cut.
On average adult hospices in the UK receive 30% (14% for Rowans Hospice) of its funding from government health budgets, for children’s hospices it is 22% – the rest must be raised from income generating initiatives.
Hospices support more than 200,000 people with terminal and life-limiting conditions in the UK each year, and that number is rising as mortality rates rise as the ageing population increases as a consequence of the post-World War II ‘baby boom’.
Tracey Bleakley, Chief Executive of Hospice UK, said: “This survey gives a bleak picture of the financial outlook for many charitable hospices.
“Rising service costs and an increasingly precarious ‘Jenga-like’ funding model are undermining the ability of hospices to provide care at a time when demand for their services is fast growing and care needs are more complex, with more people living for longer, often with multiple conditions.
Hospices are an important part of a wider care system for terminally ill and dying people and it is vital that there is sufficient investment for the whole system to maintain care provision and also ensure support for more people.
Failure to tackle this will store up bigger problems and effectively create a care deficit for people with life-limiting conditions in the future.
The UK is ranked as one of the best countries in the world for palliative care and we remain dedicated to improving patient choice and ending variation for everyone through our end of life care commitment.
Local NHS organisations determine the level of NHS-funded hospice care and are responsible for ensuring services meet the needs of their population.”
If, like me, you heard this report I imagine it would have raised a concern for Rowans Hospice and especially as we embark of an ambitious refurbishment project in July 2019.
Although our income streams are unpredictable, the consistency of income has offered Trustees the reassurance that Phase 1 of the development is affordable as we have fundraising opportunities for the project duration (85 weeks).
However there is no room for complacency and maintaining voluntary income will continue to be a challenge with shortfalls in NHS funding. Your support and what you are able to do is therefore so important to help us maintain and sustain Rowans Hospice into the future.
Thank you in anticipation of your support for local Hospice care services and to raise additional income for the Silver Jubilee Appeal.
Ruth White – Rowans Hospice Chief Executive Officer