UK hospices ‘face a funding crisis and need an extra £120m to pay staff’

UK hospices are facing a funding crisis and will need to find an additional £120m to match the NHS salary offer for staff, chief executives have warned.

The Hospice UK charity said services to patients risk being cut due to a funding black hole in the sector.

Staff make up the majority (71%) of hospice costs and hospices recruit from the same pool of staff as the NHS.

If they want to match government pay increases for NHS nurses and other staff, hospices would have to raise an additional £120m through fundraising, Hospice UK said.

Hospices are already expecting a £186m shortfall this year due to rising costs and dwindling donations as people grapple with the cost of living crisis.

On average, adult hospices have to raise around two-thirds of their income through charity fundraising, while for children’s hospices the figure rises to around 80%.

In comments shared exclusively with the PA news agency, Toby Porter, chief executive of Hospice UK, said: “Hospices are a critical part of the health and care system, providing care and support to 300,000 people a year across the UK. .

“But right now, rising personnel and energy costs are stretching your finances to the extreme. Almost all hospices are budgeting for losses this year.

“Hospices are committed to paying their brilliant staff a fair wage, but without adequate government support they will have to try to find the funds to do so through the income they earn from charity shops, marathon runs and bake sales.

“It’s just not realistic to expect them to do so at a time when the cost of living crisis is hitting their supporters.

“We call on the government to recognize this by finding a way to support hospices to keep up with NHS pay increases this year and next.

“If they don’t, services will inevitably be cut off. Just this week we have seen a hospice in the north east of England forced to close some services.”

Trevor Johnson, chief executive of Acorns Children’s Hospice in Birmingham, said: “Hospices like Acorns are essential partners in the healthcare system, providing services that help take the pressure off the NHS and a level of love, care and support that many families cannot find anywhere else..

“However, like all employers, Acorns faces a higher wage cost for the year in order to keep pace with the NHS and the broader job market and to attract and retain the specialist roles we need to be able to support families. that depend on us. .

“These rising costs present a huge challenge and exceed our ability to raise funds through fundraising or revenue from our charity shops, as unlike most businesses we are unable to pass our rising costs on to the consumer. .

“The situation is comparable to the Covid crisis, during which the Government intervened to offer a lifeline to vital services such as Acorns.

“Similar action is needed now for the sector, in recognition of the incredible work our care teams are doing with local families – families who in many cases would have nowhere to turn if not for the local children’s hospice.”

Irene McKie, Chief Executive of Strathcarron Hospice in Forth Valley, Scotland, said: “Our highly specialized Hospice at Home service supports over 400 people a week – the same number as our inpatient unit.

“We need to raise around £102,000 per week to keep all our hospice services operating at the current level with the same number of staff.

“This year alone we are facing £1.1m of additional running costs, due to two years of wage increases and high inflation. To further reduce our costs, we would have to cut or reduce services.”

According to Hospice UK, the demand for end-of-life care is increasing.

To keep pace with the NHS pay increase, he says hospices in Scotland would need to find an extra £15.5m, while in Wales the figure is £4.4m and £2.4m. in Northern Ireland.

In England, East Midlands would need to find an additional £4.5m, West Midlands £11.2m, East England £11m, London £8.5m and North East £2.7m.

Yorkshire and Humberside would need an additional £8.5m, the North West £10.6m, the South Central £6.1m, the South East Coast £12.8m and the South West £10.8m.

Staff costs for services run by Marie Curie and Sue Ryder are above this for England, and are included in Hospice UK’s £120m figure.

The UK government has offered NHS staff, including paramedics and nurses, a bonus for 2022/23, plus a pay increase for 2023/24 of at least 5%.

A spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “We have made more than £400 million available to hospices since 2020 to secure and increase additional NHS capacity and enable hospital discharge, ensuring hospices can continue to provide care to who need it.

“Most hospices are independent charities that are free to set their own salary rates at the level they choose.”


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