NHS and local council cuts are hitting lifeline care for seriously ill children, a survey of 27 children’s hospices in England carried out by the children’s hospice campaigning charity Together for Short Lives has shown.
With proposals already having been made to close Acorns Children’s Hospice site in Walsall, fears are being raised that this is just tip of the iceberg.
Now Together for Short Lives and children’s hospices across the country including Hope House are calling on NHS England to keep its promise to protect the Children’s Hospice Grant (which is divided between us all) – and go further by increasing it to £25million per year.
Published today, the Together for Short Lives survey found that in the last two years the average funding each children’s hospice received from local NHS clinical commissioning groups reduced by more than £7,000 – a 2% cut from £371,303 to £364,076.
It says that this combination of falling NHS funding and increasing costs is hitting the most vulnerable children and their families, with a fifth of children’s hospices cutting vital respite breaks.
Andy Fletcher, Chief Executive of Together for Short Lives said:
“Children’s hospices in England are facing a dangerous cocktail of growing costs and declining, patchy NHS funding, which is putting their long-term future at risk. Acorns’ proposal to close one of its children’s hospices could be just the tip of the iceberg.”
Andy Goldsmith, Chief Executive of Hope House Children’s Hospices said:
“It is a sad reflection that NHS England consider that access to children’s hospice care for terminally ill children and for families at the most tragic of times should depend almost entirely on the generosity of local communities and businesses and the ability of hospices to fundraise and run charity shops.
“While the real term value of the children’s hospice grant has been eroded in recent years it is still a significant contribution to hospice nursing costs that could not easily or quickly be replaced.
“Children’s hospices cannot continue to operate on deficit budgets like many NHS bodies do and the simple truth is that removal of this funding will result in services to terminally ill children and families being scaled back or withdrawn entirely.
“Children’s hospices already provide essential care services for terminally ill children and support for families, avoiding hospital admissions, helping to keep families together and giving quality of life to very sick children.
“Most of this is funded through the fantastic generosity of local communities and businesses. £25 Million is a drop in the ocean of NHS expenditure that will easily be spent several times over by the NHS should hospice services close.
“The proposed closure of Acorns Walsall has shown that NHS England can no longer assume that local communities can bear the full cost of the provision of hospice services.”