Hospices demand greater funding

VOLUNTARY hospices should be better funded by the Government and less dependent on charities, campaigners have claimed.Local fundraisers and volunteers have to make up the shortfall, with Government paying for just one third of the costs in England and Scotland, and only one fifth in Wales.

VOLUNTARY hospices should be better funded by the Government and less dependent on charities, campaigners have claimed.

Local fundraisers and volunteers have to make up the shortfall, with Government paying for just one third of the costs in England and Scotland, and only one fifth in Wales.

Charity Help the Hospices has raised the issue in the run-up to World Hospice and Palliative Care Day on October 8.

Deputy chief executive Chris Shaw said yesterday: “We need a better funding system from the NHS.


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“Across the UK, £400million of care comes from local fundraising of one kind or another.

“It could be support from local companies or charitable trusts but the bulk is from a huge variety of fundraising events.

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“There's lots more to be done, particularly in making sure hospice care reaches all the people who need it.”

She said funding changes in the NHS were due in 2008 but the hospice movement was still unsure how they would be affected.

Melanie Chew, fundraising officer at the Quidenham branch of the East Anglian Children's Hospices - which also has branches in Ipswich and Cambridge - echoed Ms Shaw's comments.

She said: “From our point of view it is an issue for us as well. Thirteen per cent of our income comes through the NHS, which means the majority has to be raised through voluntary donations every year - we need £4.7 million annually - which is quite a feat.

“I agree that Government funding should be higher - for example, adult hospices get between 30 and 40% of their income from the Government.

“I believe that there has been an indication that they (the Government) are willing to help, but it seems to be a slow process.”

Ron Overton, chief executive of St Nicholas Hospice in Bury St Edmunds, added: “I'm in broad sympathy with Chris Shaw's comments.

“Adult hospices receive 35% of their income from the NHS, whereas we get 25% so we are below average.

“But the balance is that the independence of hospices fulfils a particularly valuable function and I would never want to be in a situation where we had 100% funding from the NHS.

“The community involvement and interaction is very important to what we do. Having said that, we would be very pleased to see it rise above the 25% that it is now - something like 50/50 would be ideal.”

The NHS national director for cancer, Professor Mike Richards, said more funding was going into caring for people at the end of their lives, but more needed to be done.

He said: “We have made a great deal of progress in specialist palliative care services.

“We spent an extra £50 million in 2003-4 in specialist palliative care, including hospices - meeting the commitment set out in the NHS Cancer plan.”

He said more than half of the extra cash went to the voluntary sector, and paid for 28 consultants, 133 nurse specialists and 38 specialist care beds.

He added: “In 2004 we launched the End of Life Care initiative which will see an extra £12million invested over three years to train staff working in general practices, care homes and on hospital wards so that all adult patients nearing the end of life, regardless of their diagnosis, will have access to high quality palliative care. We acknowledge that there is a lot more to be done.”

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