Government urged to secure the future of palliative care provision

In a letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr Rishi Sunak, ahead of this week’s Budget, Sue Ryder's Director of Nursing, Sarah Gigg, states that the lack of secure funding is putting care for vulnerable people “at unnecessary risk.”

Letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak MP

Dear Chancellor,

Many congratulations on your appointment as Chancellor of the Exchequer. As you prepare for your first budget, I would like to take this opportunity to highlight to you a unique situation in which the hospice sector finds itself with regards to its funding, and ask you to commit to address this in the forthcoming budget.

Despite the expert, compassionate palliative care provided in our hospices and their local communities to people with a terminal illness and at the end of life, hospices receive on average only enough funding to cover one third of their costs. Indeed, some of our own hospices receive as little as 28% of their funding from statutory sources and for the vast majority of our hospices statutory funding has stayed the same or decreased over the last 5 years, while costs have increased significantly. The rest of our income is fundraised and is therefore reliant on goodwill. This places care for people at their most vulnerable at unnecessary risk.

The value of the care provided by hospice teams is undeniable and hospice care is cited as a key component of the flagship personalisation agenda outlined in the NHS Long Term Plan published last year. And by providing specialist palliative care, hospices including hospice at home help the wider system by freeing up hospital beds that would otherwise be occupied by people at the end of life. Yet our financial situation is putting the future of hospices and the people for which we provide essential care at risk.

In response to the funding gap faced by hospices, the Prime Minister announced a non-recurrent £25 million cash boost for hospices last year: sadly this has not reached all of our hospices. However in addition to short term funding to keep services going, what we require is a plan to ensure that hospices and the entire palliative care sector works together in a much more integrated, effective, personalised and sustainable manner. There was reference to this in the Conservative manifesto in the recent general election.

Time is now of the essence. As this is an area of care that affects everyone with a terminal illness – and as our population ages and palliative care needs increase – I urge you to put in place the necessary funding mechanism to place the sector on a sustainable footing, fit for the future.

I do hope you agree this is now critical and look forward to hearing from you.

With best wishes,

Sarah Gigg
Director of Nursing and Interim Director of Hospices, Sue Ryder

More information

Read the news article on the Daily Mirror website.