Minister Pledge Over Hospice Cash

Welsh Health Minister Edwina Hart has pledged to review the funding of independent hospices. During a visit to Nightingale Hospice in Wrexham, Ms Hart said she was keen for a “closer relationship” with the hospice movement across the country.

She said Wrexham staff had raised “difficult issues”, including how they get less than a quarter of the funding they need from the assembly.

Nightingale House staff said they were pleased the minister had listened. The centre cares for more than 400 people with life-threatening illnesses every year. It needs around £2.2m every year to function, but receives just £485,000 of Welsh Assembly Government funding, which is allocated through the local council.

The rest of the funding is met through donations and fundraising within the local community. A similar situation exists at other hospices across Wales, many of which have warned terminally-ill patients could be turned away unless extra money is found. Earlier this year, former Health Minister Dr Brian Gibbons promised £2m core funding annually towards the 12 charitable hospices in Wales.

After visiting the centre on Thursday, Edwina Hart said: “Staff have raised quite difficult issues with me abut how they work with the statutory sector and I’m going to go back to have a look at that.

“I’m going to ask for further work to be done by officials on funding. I’m very keen we have a closer relationship with the hospice movement in Wales, but they have to be flexible like this place, possibly with issues like a service level agreement which is something I’m going to look at.”

John Savage, executive director of Nightingale House, said: “We were very pleased to have the chance to discuss some of this with her. We were particularly pleased to hear that a decision will be made in the next few weeks on the allocation of the £2m that the assembly has in its budget for palliative care services.”