Warning over huge hospice fund shortfall

Brian House
Brian House
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Children’s hospices including Blackpool’s Brian House are on the brink of a funding crisis due to public spending cuts, a new report has warned.

The hospice on Low Moor Road, Bispham, is currently £500,000 a year short of the money it needs each year.

A study by charities Hospice UK and Together for Short Lives has found hospices nationwide are struggling due to falling state income as a proportion of their costs - which are rising by about 10 per cent every year.

For the last financial year the running costs of Brian House in Bispham were £1,256,910, with only £195,254 of that from the NHS.

The sum has only been increased once in the last eight years, and the children’s hospice does not receive any council funding.

David Houston, chief executive of Trinity Hospice and Brian House Children’s Hospice, said: “It will come as a shock to most people to realise that children’s hospices receive on average only 22 per cent of their costs from the state.

“For us here at Brian House, where it is only about 15 per cent, that means trying to raise over £1m each year through local people’s big-heartedness.

“The sad truth at present is that we are some £500,000 a year short of this target and greatly need their support.

“That is why next year we are inviting everyone to come together to bridge the gap and celebrate the Brian House 21st Birthday.

“We hope, as the only local children’s hospice supporting children and young people on the Fylde Coast, the community will rally behind us.”

The report found the NHS England children’s hospice grant has remained static, at £377,106 in 2015/16 for children’s hospices compared to £356,166 in 2013/14.

Barbara Gelb, chief executive of Together for Short Lives, said: “We urge the Government to listen to children and their families and end this crisis in children’s palliative care funding.

“The needs of this relatively small but nevertheless significant and growing number of children, with the weakest voice, are often not heard or ignored.”