UK children’s palliative care charity Together for Short Lives has expressed its concern at new figures published by Hospice UK which show that nearly a third (28%) of hospices are cutting or planning to cut services for seriously ill people as a result of financial pressures. It has also renewed its call on ministers to protect and increase funding for children’s hospices and palliative care charities in England.
From its survey of children’s and adult hospices, Hospice UK has found that a precarious funding model is undermining hospices’ ability to meet increasing demand for care. For more than two thirds of hospices (71%) surveyed, costs have risen faster than inflation in the past two years. Almost three quarters (73%) of hospices surveyed have had their statutory income either cut or frozen over the past two years.
Andy Fletcher, Chief Executive of Together for Short Lives, said:
“These worrying findings further demonstrate the impact that inequitable and unsustainable statutory funding is having on palliative care for people with life-limiting or life-threatening conditions. Children’s hospice and palliative care charities are supporting more seriously ill children and families than ever before, with increasingly complex needs. Yet statutory funding is not keeping pace with demand. Despite positive commitments in the NHS Long Term Plan, ministers refuse to agree to protect existing grant funding for children’s hospices.
“I call on the government to act now by honouring the commitment NHS England made on 27 December to increase the Children’s Hospice Grant to £25million. I also ask them to bring about parity of funding between children’s and adult hospices – and develop a funded strategy which makes sure that 24/7 children’s palliative care support can be accessed by seriously ill children and families when and where they need it. If ministers fail to meet the challenge, more children’s hospices and palliative care charities will be forced to cut care, piling more pressure on to our already overstretched NHS.”
Together for Short Lives will shortly publish a report which sets out how children’s hospice and palliative care charities in England are being funded by the NHS and local authorities – and what impact this is having upon seriously ill children and their families.
“I call on the government to act now by honouring the commitment NHS England made on 27 December to increase the Children’s Hospice Grant to £25million."Andy Fletcher, Chief Executive of Together for Short Lives