Hospiscare is campaigning for fair statutory funding for our hospice. To find out more, please see www.hospiscare.co.uk/fair 


The hospice funding crisis and this week in parliament

Our CEO, Andrew Randall, writes on the politics of hospice funding and the current picture at Hospiscare

The national picture

This week, a long-awaited and, as it turned out, robust debate in the House of Commons highlighted the growing concern over hospice funding – sadly, a situation that we at Hospiscare are only too familiar with.

This spring, Hospice UK, the membership body for hospices nationwide, released figures that show the hospice sector is collectively facing the worst funding deficit in 20 years: an estimated funding deficit of £77 million.

A perfect storm: inequitable funding, soaring costs & increasing demand

This stark prediction is already affecting local charities such as ours, as Hospiscare faces up to the reality of a funding shortfall of £2.5 million for 2024/25

The causes of our deficit are clear. Year-on-year, our hospice’s charitable fundraising and the generosity of our local community has paid for over 80% of our running costs. Our local NHS funding body, the Devon Integrated Care Board, which is legally responsible for providing palliative care services, has contributed just 18% – although the average nationally is 37%.

The inadequacy and inequity of statutory funding has long been an issue, but when coupled with soaring costs during the cost-of-living crisis and increasing demand post-pandemic, the conditions are created for a ‘perfect storm’.

What’s needed?

Locally, we are calling for fairer funding from our Devon ICB, and we’re seeing an increase in coverage nationally for the wider issues. The Welsh government has just announced an additional £4 million in funding for its hospices this year and an All-Party Parliamentary Group in England has reported that the hospice funding and commissioning model here must change to become more strategic.

This week’s debate in the Commons confirmed broad support across all political parties for the quality of care and value for money that hospices provide British citizens and recognition that they need much better statutory support if they are to continue their outstanding work.

Taking next steps

This discussion and sentiment must now translate into action.

During the Commons’ debate, Sally-Ann Hart MP highlighted that statutory hospice funding has not kept pace with inflation, increasing by just 1% per year on average. Debate co-host, Peter Gibson MP, also flagged that – unlike NHS funding – hospice funding also hasn’t increased to take NHS salary increases into account, increases that hospices must too put into place.

My hope now is that sensible and urgent discussion continues apace at both a local and national level.

Our commissioning and funding body here in Devon has offered us a sit-down meeting to discuss strategic provision of palliative care for the first time since their formation, and we will be holding their board to their word for that.

The Health Minister responsible for hospices, Helen Whately MP, has acknowledged inequities in access to hospice services, especially in rural areas, and challenges in the current model and has affirmed a commitment to ensuring hospices receive appropriate support. Meanwhile, the Commons’ concluded their debate with a call for more hospice funding to be included in the next spending review and for local Integrated Care Boards to urgently address hospice funding in their areas.

Helping our cause

Thank you to everyone who wrote to our Integrated Care Board in the last six months to encourage them to fund our hospice fairly. We’ve been humbled and honoured to have had the support of local people across Devon, including active support from our local MPs.

I hope you will join me now in keeping this topic front and centre in our local community and with our elected representatives as they campaign for our votes later this year.

It truly takes a community to make a hospice and our community already does so much for us and our patients – thank you. If you are able, please consider making a small donation to the hospice or becoming a regular giver. Every little really does help.