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UK Hospices 'Face Funding Crisis and Need Extra £120 m to Pay Staff'

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

The charity Hospice UK said patient services risk being cut owing 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 the Government's increased pay awards to NHS nurses and other staff, hospices would need to raise an extra £120 m through fundraising, Hospice UK said.

Hospices are already expecting a deficit of £186 million this year owing to rising costs and fewer donations as people deal 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 staff and energy costs are stretching their finances to the extreme. Nearly all hospices are budgeting for a loss this year.

"Hospices are committed to paying their brilliant staff a fair wage, but without proper Government support they will need to try and find the funds to do so through the income they raise from charity shops, marathon runs and bake sales.

"It is just not realistic to expect them to do so at a time when the cost-of-living crisis is affecting their supporters.

"We are asking for the Government to recognise this by finding a way to support hospices to keep pace with NHS pay rises this year and next.

"If they fail to do so, services will inevitably be cut. Just this week we’ve seen a hospice in the north east of England being forced to close some services."

Rising Costs

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

"However, like all employers, Acorns is facing a higher salary cost for the year in order to keep pace with the NHS and wider employment market and to attract and retain the specialist roles we need to be able to support the families who depend on us.

"These rising costs present a huge challenge and outstrip our ability to raise money through fundraising or income from our charity shops, as unlike most businesses we cannot pass our rising costs on to the consumer.

"The situation is comparable to the COVID crisis – during which the Government stepped in to offer a lifeline to vital services like Acorns.

"Similar action is needed now for the sector, in recognition of the amazing work our care teams are doing with local families – families who in many cases would have nowhere else to turn if it wasn’t for their local children’s hospice."

Irene McKie, chief executive of Strathcarron Hospice in the Forth Valley, Scotland, said: “Our highly specialised Hospice at Home service supports over 400 people a week, the same amount as our inpatient unit.

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

"We face £1.1 million additional running costs this year alone, due to 2 years of pay rises and high inflation. To further reduce our costs, we would have to cut or reduce services."

According to Hospice UK, demand for end-of-life care is increasing. To keep pace with the NHS pay rise, it says hospices in Scotland would need to find an extra £15.5 million, while in Wales the figure is £4.4 million, and £2.4 million in Northern Ireland. In England, the East Midlands would need to find an extra £4.5 million, the West Midlands £11.2 million, the East of England £11 million, London £8.5 million and the North East £2.7 million. Yorkshire and Humberside would need an extra £8.5 million, the North West £10.6 million, south central £6.1 million, the south-east coast £12.8 million and the South West £10.8 million. The staff costs of services run by Marie Curie and Sue Ryder are on top of this.

The Government in England has offered NHS staff, including paramedics and nurses, a bonus for the year 2022/23, plus a pay rise for 2023/24 worth at least 5%.

This article contains information from PA Media