Palliative care sector ‘at serious risk of collapse without more Government funds’ – Sue Ryder

The palliative care sector is at “serious risk” of collapse if the Government does not commit an extra £313 million a year to end its funding crisis, a leading provider has warned.

Sue Ryder said charities have “papered over the cracks” for too long and the Government must fund 70% of the sector’s costs as it meets rising demand.

An independent report for the charity by London Economics, published earlier this year, predicted the number of people needing end of life care in England will rise by 55% over the next decade.

It found that meeting 70% of the sector’s costs based on this rise would equate to an additional estimated £313 million a year, but the collapse of the independent hospice sector would lead to the NHS providing services which would cost an extra estimated £484 million a year.

If Government funding stays at the same level, hospices will need to fundraise £597 million every year to meet the estimated increased cost.

Sue Ryder said this is not possible, and hospices cannot continue operating with ad hoc financial top-ups which do not address long-term issues.

Heidi Travis (pictured), Sue Ryder chief executive, said: “I think it will come as a surprise to many that their local hospice is reliant on the generosity of members of the public who choose to donate or fundraise.

“Put plainly, in order to pay the salaries of our doctors and nurses who provide expert care, pain and symptom management to people at the end of their lives, we rely on people buying second-hand clothes from our charity shops or running a marathon and asking their friends and family for sponsorship.

“It is unfathomable that such a critical part of our healthcare system is hanging by a thread.”

Barbara Keeley, Labour MP for Worsley and Eccles South and a member of the Health and Social Care Select Committee, said: “Essential healthcare services should not be reliant on fundraising and donations from members of the public to remain open.

“The Government’s approach of offering short-term financial packages which are not adequate to the needs of the sector cannot continue.”

Copyright (c) PA Media Ltd. 2021, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Sue Ryder.