Energy price rises ‘will devastate hospice care’

Starmer pledges state-owned energy firm in conference speech

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Rocketing energy bills have exacerbated a long-standing and perilous financial situation where many sites are forced to rely on cake sales and raffles to stay afloat.

Officials are now warning of the imminent closure of some of the nation’s 200 facilities, which care for more than 200,000 adults and children every year.

David Smith, chief executive of St Teresa’s Hospice in Darlington, County Durham, said that without urgent intervention the emergency will “devastate hospice care”.

He added: “While the NHS has always contributed some money towards our services, that support hasn’t been properly reviewed for a long time.

“When Covid hit and our fundraising stopped overnight our hospices, like others up and down the country, faced a bleak future. We are fortunate the Government stepped in and the Treasury released significant support funds. Without those funds many of us wouldn’t be here today.

“That crisis also brought realisation to the top of Government that hospice care needed proper sustainable funding. We know the health service is facing multiple crises right now.

“But we urgently need our local NHS partners to help us plan for the future and work with us on a transition to the fairer funding Parliament has guided them to consider.We can’t do this alone.”

Analysis shows hospices, where the terminally ill are nursed in their final days and respite care given, now face increased annual costs of £115million, or £300,000 every day. Without help, officials say the network will collapse – and the care burden fall to the already teetering NHS.

Hospice UK chief executive Toby Porter said: “We are asking the new Government to ensure the vital role hospices play in the health system is recognised by resilient, sustainable funding.”

The fresh crisis, exacerbated by the global fuel emergency, comes after Covid battered the sector.

It received a one-off taxpayerfunded cash injection. But, with the economic situation now significantly worse – and demand for end-of-life care soaring – hospice chiefs want a new, long-term and sustainable funding solution.

The average adult hospice in England gets 32 percent of its funding from health budgets, while children’s hospices get 17 percent.

It means all rely heavily on community fundraising events to keep their heads above water. But with energy bills rising again, people with complex end-of-life needs could soon be left without support as hospices are forced to close.

Peter Gibson, Tory MP for Darlington and co-chair of the allparty parliamentary group on hospice care, said: “I was delighted to see that our new Prime Minister has announced immediate action on energy costs to support not only households around the UK, but also non-domestic energy users.

“I look forward to hearing how hospices will benefit from this support. However, it is unacceptable that such a critical health service remains financially vulnerable.”

A Government spokesman said: “As part of the Covid response, we have made over £400million available to hospices since the start of the pandemic to ensure they can continue delivering quality care to those who need it.

“Hospices may also be entitled to a reduction in VAT, and exclusion from the main rates of the Climate Change Levy on energy for non-business purposes.”

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