Whilst hospices have been caring for people at the end of their lives, and with life-limiting conditions, at in-patient units and at home – we’ve been pushing the boundaries of what we can do to support the end of life and palliative care sector. 

As the national charity for hospices, our collective voice has been making an impact in 2023. Here’s a roundup of just some of our highlights.

On average, 2/3 of an adult’s hospice income and just 1/5 of a children’s hospice income is raised through fundraising from the public through events such as bake sales and marathons
We spoke up for hospices in 2023

Speaking up for our hospices


We spoke up for the hospice sector about the impact of the cost of living crisis and rising financial pressure.

Over the last year hospices have faced soaring energy costs, while fuel, food and the cost of paying a fair wage to their dedicated staff are all increasing.

We used hospice accounts figures and surveyed our hospice members to find out how the cost of living crisis was impacting them. We used this to run projections on the escalating costs that hospices were facing and we were able to calculate that hospices were facing a £120m staff cost hike, a £29m energy cost hike, and that 96% of them were budgeting for a deficit.

We spoke up for hospices in the media, seeing lots of coverage over several months on BBC Breakfast, the Sunday Times, the Guardian, ITV, and many more. The message was strong and simple, hospices needed help. The support of our hospice members was vital, giving us an opportunity to tell the story of what was happening for hospices across the country.

Alongside the media work we launched a supporter action, encouraging people to write to their local parliamentarian. This saw over 4,000 letters written and we gained support from 100+ parliamentarians across the UK.

Over 50 of these wrote to relevant ministers to raise the issue, who then raised it in the House of Commons. This led to meetings with ministers at the Treasury, Department of Health and Social Care and Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, as well as the Shadow Minister for Social Care, plus meetings in Scotland and Wales with politicians as well. Through these meetings we have pressed the case for additional financial support for the hospice sector.

Dying Matters Awareness Week

Our annual Dying Matters Awareness Week is an important opportunity for Hospice UK to promote equitable access to care and support for all those facing death, dying and bereavement in the UK. 

In 2023, it centred around the theme of Dying Matters at Work. This was a theme that aimed to encourage structured conversation around death and dying, focusing on compassion in the workplace, and led by our workplace bereavement support programme, Compassionate Employers.


We asked our community to run an event in their hospice or wider community, take our Compassionate Superhero quiz and discover how compassionate a workplace can be. 

Dying Matters Awareness Week 2023 saw communities across the UK get involved. 289 community events were registered, there were over 18,000 downloads of our resources, we saw 242 pieces of media coverage, and nearly 5,000 people completed our Compassionate Superhero quiz – all contributing to starting conversation in the community about grief and bereavement, and tackling the taboo of death.

Dying Matters Awareness Week in 2024 takes place from 6-12 May 2024

Illustration by Soofiya

Tackling barriers to care

We are committed to understanding the barriers faced by trans and gender diverse people when accessing end of life, hospice, and palliative care.

In April we published “I just want to be me”, a report based on first-hand research with the trans and gender diverse community and those working in end of life care.

The research, carried out as part of the Being Ready project with the support of the Gender Identity Research & Education Society (GIRES) and Stonewall, explores those barriers in depth for the first time and sets out recommendations for how to tackle them.

Read the report

Hospice Care Week


In 2023, Hospice Care Week took place from 9-16 October. It’s an important annual moment for the hospice sector which, coordinated by Hospice UK, celebrates the work of hospices online and in the media.

This year, we focused on workforce, under a theme called ‘we are hospice care’. This aimed to shine a light on the amazing people that keep hospices running, and caring for people at in-patient units and at home, throughout the UK.

We supported hospices across the UK to run events to promote and celebrate their work, encouraging media coverage and fundraising. And we helped co-ordinate content and messaging to show why working and volunteering in a hospice is such a rewarding thing to do.

We asked MPs to shadow a local hospice worker in their constituency to learn about workforce pressures – and found this had a fantastic response from parliamentarians, as (at the time of writing) 17 MPs had visited their local hospice to shadow a member of staff. 

Find out more about Hospice Care Week, and look out for 2024 dates.

We produced this short hero film, 'We Are Hospice Care', to share during Hospice Care Week. It was viewed over 11,000 times.

The Tik-Tok-style film was used to help celebrate our hospices' workforce. In the video, we hear from a range of staff and volunteers at hospices all around the UK - and what they love most about what they do.

It was fantastic to see our member hospices and the public getting involved, showing that people are keen to support what we do – working to ensure everyone affected by death, dying and grief gets the care and support they need, when they need it.

A record-breaking National Conference


2023 saw a record-breaking year for our annual National Conference, which took place from 6-8 November 2023, at ACC Liverpool, and online.

Under the theme of ‘Thinking differently, we were excited to think differently about the big trends, challenges and opportunities in hospice and end of life care across all four nations of the UK.

Over 800 hospice and end of life sector colleagues joined us for a varied agenda packed with discussion, debate, presentations, research and learning. 352 abstracts were submitted in response to the call for papers – a 16% increase on 2022.

The conference was opened by Hospice UK’s Chief Executive, Toby Porter, who shared reflections on the changing demographics of the UK, and the challenges that our ageing population present for the health and care system. 

With demand for end of life care services set to grow significantly, he argued that hospices across the country will have an increasingly important role to play. 

Delegates were honoured to have England’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty join the opening plenary session on Monday 6 November.

Addressing the opening session of the conference, Professor Whitty shared his thoughts on trends in medicine, demography and mortality. He praised the hospice sector and gave his perspective on the skills, experience and wisdom hospice care professionals can share with the wider health system.

Next year’s conference takes place from 26 – 28 November 2024 at the SEC Glasgow.

Professor Chris Whitty joins the Hospice UK National Conference
We welcomed Professor Chris Whitty to Conference

Recognising brilliance: Hospice UK Awards


As a much anticipated part of the annual national conference, we announced the winners of the Hospice UK awards. Awarded over 7 categories, they recognise and celebrate the hard work and innovation taking place in hospices and palliative care organisations across the UK, and the long lasting impact that it will have. 

For innovation and champion-based awards, judges looked for stand-out projects which will inspire other organisations, and those which show the wider sector the difference they’ve made to people facing the end of their life, and their families.

Winners included the Pendleside ‘Meals on Wheels’ team, who were commended on expanding their hospice’s care into the community; Dr Christine Mott of Acorns Hospices, who produced innovative paediatric guidance, bringing together experts across the world to do so; and Duncan Fleming from Mountbatten Hospice, who collaborated with internal and external organisations on a range of innovative IT projects, such as using VR headsets to reduce pain and stress in patients.

Through the two Volunteer Awards, the special contribution to hospice care made by especially dedicated individuals is recognised. Jess Sheridan of Dorothy House Hospice won the Volunteer of the Year Award for her remarkable commitment using her personal experience to champion the hospice’s work to local children; and Graham Stone was awarded the Volunteer Gardener of the Year for ‘going beyond’ his gardening role at Thames Hospice and playing an important part of their outpatient services.

Read more about all the Hospice UK award winners.

Duncan Fleming, Mountbatten Hospice, was the winner of the 2023 Digital Champion Award at the Hospice UK National Conference
Duncan Fleming won the Digital Champion award

Celebrating communities


In 2023 we celebrated communities through our grants programmes. Thanks to incredible support from a range of donors, including trusts, foundations and corporate partners, Hospice UK has been able to provide funding to support brilliant people deliver vital projects in communities across the UK.

In addition to celebrating communities, our professional development grants and bursaries, funded by the Masonic Charitable Foundation and the Wolfson Foundation, also supported hundreds of hospice and palliative care professionals. This funding is helping them develop knowledge and skills, enabling innovation and even better care of patients and their families in hospices around the UK. Read stories of our grant funding.

And, with support from the Kirby Laing Foundation, we are funding 11 hospices to develop and deliver innovative models of frailty care on our three-year Extending Frailty Care programme – positively changing the approach to caring for people with frailty.

This year, the Dying Matters Community Grants programme funded a further 8 projects taking place across the UK, including Ballynafeigh, Powys, Leicester and Sheffield.

In Sheffield, Ignite Imaginations used their grant to run creative workshops exploring grief with migrant communities, and held a public exhibition in the city centre. The workshops included painting, flower pressing and book making. A participant from the project remarked:

“This book shows my journey. It’s been a difficult journey, but I am happy to share my story. There are hills in my book, which go up and down - just like life.’

Ballynafeigh Methodist Church (pictured) used their grant to run storytelling workshops led by theatre makers and performers, to provide participants with a space to write and share stories about illness and death. Read more about the projects.

Eight more projects are to be funded by Dying Matters Community Grants in 2023, including Ballynafeigh
'Stories of death, grief & lives well lived'

Innovation and Thought Leadership


Through our networks, learning events and online resources we’ve continued to share the innovative practice that is going on in the hospice sector, which helps hospices learn from each other and find solutions to challenges.

We have published over 60 examples of innovation on topics including collaboration, equity of care, environmental sustainability and income generation. Each example shares practical tips and advice to help hospices implement new ways of working.

Barbara-Anne Walker is CEO of Ashgate Hospice and writes for the Hospice Thought Leadership series at Hospice UK

As part of our Innovation Hub resources, we also launched our Hospice Thought Leadership guest blog series.

These feature contributions from member hospices’ Chief Executives on issues and challenges facing the end of life sector – such as whether hospices should be part of the NHS, whether hospices are healthcare providers or businesses (or both), and how health inequalities are shaping the delivery of palliative care.

Explore the series

Connecting and supporting hospice workforce


As part of our offer to end of life and palliative care professionals, we coordinate both clinical and non-clinical professional networks, also called ‘Communities of Practice’. These are designed to connect peers across the sector with each other, to share learning and best practice.

In 2023, we were delighted to achieve record attendance in our Research and Evidence Community of Practice; build momentum in our Dementia Community of Practice in collaboration with Dementia UK – which provided a range of key topics including service models and specialist pathways and empowering better end of life dementia care; and help hospices implement the Patient Safety Incident Reference Framework (PSIRF) – which ensures mechanisms for responding to patient safety incidents are embedded in hospice care.

Our Education Network, made up of hospice and palliative care educators and those with a remit for hospice education, shares information and encourage shared learning and peer-to-peer support amongst the members, providing updates and information relevant to the sector. It grew to 255 members this year.

Our Resilience Based Clinical Supervision Programme was created during the Covid-19 pandemic to support staff wellbeing. The 18 month project ended in December 2023 and saw 81 people from 36 hospices across three nations meet to learn about staff wellbeing and resilience, and take their learning back to their wider teams.

Working in partnership

We were delighted this year to reach a milestone with the National Garden Scheme, who are the largest funder of our work. They’ve donated more than £7million in support of hospice care since 1996.

Celebrating this partnership, we filmed Thames Hospice patient, Stephen, with Volunteer and Ambassador, Graham, discussing how the hospice’s stunning gardens and diverse wildlife have an immense therapeutic effect on their day-to-day lives.