Council calls for ‘fair contribution’ from NHS for cash crisis hospices

Photo: unclelkt (pixabay.com)

The country’s third largest unitary authority looks set to press the Government to ensure hospices facing a cash crisis get a “fair contribution” from the NHS.

Leaders of political groups on North Yorkshire Council said they would support a cross-party notice of motion being put to a full meeting of the authority on Wednesday (May 16) to write to Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Victoria Atkins after hospices in the county revealed a real terms drop in funding from the NHS had led to them facing huge deficits.

The motion states the “failure” to adequately fund hospices is having a detrimental impact on hospice service provision across the county and is also undermining the council’s ability to fulfil its responsibility to improve the health and well-being of its 615,000 population.

The motion states: “We call on the local ICB to ensure that it meets its statutory requirements, and that it commits to paying hospices the full cost of any commissioned clinical services that would be otherwise be provided by the NHS.”

The motion calls on Ms Atkins to ensure NHS England gives greater support to ICBs, enabling them to “better understand their responsibilities for hospice and end of life care services, and thus ensuring a fair contribution for the work they do and greater consistency across England”.

Tina Hedges, deputy chief executive of St Michael’s Hospice in Harrogate and Herriot Hospice in Hambleton and Richmondshire, said the NHS’s failure to respond to inflationary pressures had led to the charity facing a £500,000 annual shortfall.

The hospices say the NHS contribution towards their funding has traditionally represented about 25 per cent of their income, the majority of the remainder coming from donations.

Despite facing inflationary costs of up to eight per cent, NHS funding received by the charity is set to increase by 1.2 per cent this year.

Ms Hedges said: “ICB’s need to recognise they have a statutory responsibility to commission hospices and end-of-life care, and as part of that they do need to keep up with inflation and recognise the effect it’s having on our hospice services.

“If things don’t change it is going to impact on hospice services, and in some hospices they have closed beds, but thankfully we are not in that position and don’t ever want to be.”

She said in response St Michael’s Hospice had recently run an additional appeal in Harrogate and residents’ donations had eased the financial pressures.

Harrogate councillor Peter Lacey, who proposed the motion with the council’s scrutiny of health committee chair Councillor Andrew Lee, said relying on residents to fund the hospice was neither sustainable or fair.

He said: “Folk in Harrogate may be able to support and sustain a hospice, but in other locations perhaps not. Hospices have a special role to play. They are experts in this kind of care.

Coun Lacey said grants coming forward for the NHS had not been replicated for the hospice movement.

A parliamentary report published in January concluded the current funding model for hospices was “not fit for purpose” and, as a result, the services and the value they provide to the health system are at risk.

NHS sources said while they believed the ICB was meeting statutory guidelines, they were facing difficult financial decisions due to its settlement from the Government and emphasised they were not at odds with the local authority.

A spokesperson for NHS Humber and North Yorkshire ICB said it recognised the invaluable care that hospices provide to local people and their families.

He added: “We are currently working with the seven hospices in Humber and North Yorkshire to support a conversation around funding sustainability. We welcome the views of elected members.”

The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) said it had made over £350m available to hospices since 2020.

A DHSC spokesperson said the government had also provided £60m in additional funding, including to some hospices, to deliver one-off payments to over 27,000 eligible staff employed by non-NHS organisations.

 

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*