Rising costs and precarious “Jenga-like” funding model undermining capacity of hospices to meet demand for care

May 07, 2019

 

  • More than a third (37 per cent) of charitable hospices surveyed by Hospice UK have cancelled or delayed plans to introduce or expand services due to increasing cost pressures.
  • Almost two thirds (61%) of hospices surveyed are drawing on their reserves to meet shortfalls in funding and 38 per cent are taking steps to reduce their back office costs.
  • National charity Hospice UK believes that the current funding model for palliative and end of life care - which includes hospices - is unsustainable.

Rapidly rising service costs and an increasingly precarious “Jenga-like” funding model are creating financial pressures for many of the UK’s charitable hospices and undermining their ability to meet increasing demand for care according to a new survey launched today by the charity Hospice UK and shared exclusively with ITV News.

More than a third (37 per cent) of charitable hospices surveyed by the national hospice and palliative care charity have cancelled or delayed plans to introduce or expand services due to increasing cost pressures. And 20 per cent have already taken steps to reduce some services.

For more than two thirds of hospices (71%) surveyed, costs have risen faster than inflation in the past two years – for more than a quarter of hospices surveyed (28%), their costs have increased by more than 10 per cent over the past two years.

In response, hospices have undertaken several measures to mitigate the impact of these cost pressures, with almost two thirds (61%) of hospices surveyed drawing on their reserves to meet shortfalls in funding and 38 per cent taking steps to reduce their back office costs.

In addition, almost three quarters (73%) of hospices surveyed have had their statutory income either cut or frozen over the past two years. This funding has remained frozen for more than half (56 per cent) of hospices surveyed.

While charitable hospices in the UK raise the bulk of their funding through support from their local communities such as fundraising, statutory funding- from the NHS and local authorities - is an important source of their income. However, for many hospices their NHS income has been flat-lining over the past five years.

The survey also showed a marked lack of confidence among hospice leaders that they will have sufficient resources to meet population needs with 90 per cent saying this was not the case.

Hospice UK says the current funding model for palliative and end of life care is unsustainable and is calling for sufficient investment across the wider system.

According to earlier research by the charity one in four people are not able to get the expert palliative and end life care they need and it has concerns that this situation could worsen.

Tracey Bleakley, Chief Executive of Hospice UK, said:

“Our survey gives a bleak picture of the financial outlook for many charitable hospices.

“Rising service costs and an increasingly precarious “Jenga-like” funding model are undermining the ability of hospices to provide care at a time when demand for their services is fast growing and care needs are more complex, with more people living for longer, often with multiple conditions.

“Hospices are an important part of a wider care system for terminally ill and dying people and it is vital that there is sufficient investment for the whole system to maintain care provision and also ensure support for more people.

“Failure to tackle this will store up bigger problems and effectively create a care deficit for people with life-limiting conditions in the future. “

Notes to editors

  • Hospice UK conducted a UK-wide survey of its members to assess the national picture for hospices. The survey ran from 1-12 April 2019 and received 97 responses, which after data cleansing resulted in 79 responses for analysis – 38 per cent of Hospice UK’s membership.
  • A copy of the hospice survey is available on the Policy and Advocacy section of the Hospice UK website
  • Hospices receive some statutory funding although levels vary across the UK, between the different nations and within regions. In England on average hospices receive a third of their funding from statutory sources.
  • More information about hospices are funded is available here on Hospice UK’s website.
  • Hospice UK is the national charity for hospice and palliative care. It works to ensure all adults and children living with a terminal or life-shortening illness receive the care and support they need, when they need it.
  • Hospice UK supports 210 hospices across the UK which care for over 200,000 adults and children every year
  • For further information about hospice care visit our website www.hospiceuk.org or follow us on Twitter @hospiceuk
  • Get all the latest news from the hospice and palliative care sector, as well as patient stories, on ehospice UK at: www.ehospice.com/uk

For media enquiries contact:

Suzanne Stevenson on 0207 520 8296 or by email at s.stevenson@hospiceuk.org Or Toby Scott on 0207 520 8257 or by email at t.scott@hospiceuk.org

For out of hours media enquiries please call 07881 940 318.

 

 

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