Future looks bleak for Lancashire hospice funding

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Funding for hospices is ‘fragile, unfair and unsustainable’, according to new findings.

A survey from Hospice UK and Together For Short Lives reveals that not only do adult hospices receive, on average, just a third of their funding from the NHS, but over two thirds of those surveyed had their statutory funding frozen or cut in 2014/15.

Georgina Cox

Georgina Cox

For children’s hospices, clinical commissioning group (CCG) funding contributes an average of just 10 per cent of their care costs.

The report warns that there are early signs that the lack of fair and sustainable funding is already having an adverse effect on hospice services, which could lead to more pressure on already over-stretched NHS services if hospices are forced to reduce the level of care they provide.

One Lancashire hospice has revealed that the funding shortfall is putting one of its specialist services at risk, and another has made the shock announcement that it only receives enough statutory funding to keep it running for seven weeks of the year.

Jonathan Ellis, director of policy and advocacy at Hospice UK, said: “NHS funding for hospice care is continuing to be squeezed, yet demand for hospice care continues to rise and will grow even more in the future, due to the UK’s ageing population.

NHS funding for hospice care is continuing to be squeezed, yet demand for hospice care continues to rise and will grow even more in the future, due to the UK’s ageing population

Jonathan Ellis

“CCGs should be investing in hospice care which can help the NHS to cope with increasing demand, such as reducing the number of people who are in hospital at the end of life, with no need to be there.

“Freezing or cutting funding is both short-sighted and potentially damaging.

“Hospices are effectively in limbo until a new funding system for palliative care is implemented.”

Four Lancashire hospices here tell the Evening Post how they make ends meet, and what the future could hold.

Sue McGraw

Sue McGraw

CCGs: ‘In 2015/16 we have maintained our spending on palliative care’

A spokesman for NHS Chorley and South Ribble CCG and NHS Greater Preston CCG said: “Caring for patients at the end of their life is a key priority for the local NHS in Chorley, South Ribble and Greater Preston, and the local clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) have worked together with hospices and other partner organisations to create an ‘end of life’ strategy, which was published earlier this year.

“The CCGs fund a range of services to look after people at the end of their life, including a variety of at-home, community and hospital-based palliative care services.

“These are commissioned from, and delivered by a range of providers from the NHS and also the voluntary and charity sector. Specific funding the CCG gives to support end of life care includes annual grants to three local hospices - St Catherine’s, Derian House and Trinity Hospice – as well as the commissioning of community services from Tender Nursing Care, Marie Curie Cancer Care, and Cruse Bereavement.

“Part of the role of a CCG is to continually review how and where money is spent on health and care services to make sure they meet the needs of local residents and that they are sustainable and appropriate.

“In our 2015/16 year we have maintained our spending on palliative care services including funding of local hospices.”

Follow the links below for more about how NHS funding freezes could threaten the services Lancashire hospices provide in future...

ST CATHERINE’S HOSPICE: ‘We receive less than the average amount of NHS support’

ST JOHN’S HOSPICE: ‘We’ve had a difficult three years’

DERIAN HOUSE CHILDREN’S HOSPICE: ‘We can only open for 7 weeks’