Children’s hospices may be lost due to inadequate funding

As reported by the BBC, a charity has spoken out about how inadequate NHS funding could affect children’s hospices

Together for Short Lives, a charity which helps terminally-ill children, has stated that children’s hospitals in England might be forced to cut services or shut down if the NHS doesn’t increase its funding.

27 of the 34 children’s hospitals were examined for the report.

The charity said that a combination of increased costs and a drop in funding has stretched these services to breaking point.

However, the NHS has said that end-of-life care for children is rising each year.

Together for Short Lives has said that children’s hospices spend around £3.7m a year – an increase of 4.5% since 2016/17.

In contrast, the state’s contributions have fallen from 27% to 21% in five years, causing hospices to dip into reserve funds or stop some services entirely.

One of the hospices, Acorns in Walsall, has said it will have to close later this year unless it can raise more than £1.5m. This would mean 200 children losing vital support.

Another hospice, Forget Me Not in West Yorkshire and north Manchester, said the lack of funding “has a huge impact” on the care they can provide.

“We have two hospices: we cannot fully open our Bury hospice yet despite having amazing facilities and families desperate to access them because it receives no funding from the NHS,” said chief executive Luen Thompson.

“Our Huddersfield hospice receives less than three per cent in statutory funding of the £4m it needs to run.

“Our offer to families shouldn’t depend on how much we raise at a bucket collection or how much bric-a-brac we sell in one of our shops.”

Together for Short Lives wants the NHS to increase the Children’s Hospice Grant from £12m in 2019/20 to £25m per year.

An NHS England spokeswoman said: “NHS funding for children’s end of life care is going up every year and is set to more than double within the next five years, with up to £25m going in to care as part of the NHS Long Term Plan.

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“We are working with local health groups – including councils which of course have an important role to play in these services – and Together for Short Lives to provide the kind of support that children and their families want.”

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