Minister for Health and Social Services, Vaughan Gething, has announced a three-month package of additional support worth up to £6.3m for hospices in Wales
Hospice services in Wales rely on charitable fundraising for around two thirds of their income and have experienced a short-fall in funding during the coronavirus outbreak.
The recent restrictions imposed during the outbreak have led to a drastic drop in that income as fundraising events are cancelled, charity shops close and campaigns paused. At the same time, the crisis is making their services even more essential.
The funding announced today will enable them to continue to provide their vital services even in the absence of this fundraising activity. It comes from the £1.1bn fighting fund created by the Welsh Government to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Minister said: “I’m very pleased to be able to announce this support for our hospices to keep running during this difficult period.
As their normal charitable income dries up there is a very serious risk that hospice and end of life care services could slip into insolvency.
Hospice and end of life care services provided by the voluntary sector are a critical part of the NHS family, providing essential care to more than 20,000 people in Wales each year, and helping to prevent avoidable admission to hospital.
As the NHS prioritises treatment and care for people with COVID-19, hospice and end of life care services are more important than ever, providing service continuity to people affected by terminal illness.
This money will ensure they can continue to provide those vital services and high-quality care across Wales.”
In response, Marie Curie Director of Policy and Public Affairs Simon Jones said:
“We welcome the announcement today from Health Minister Vaughan Gething of this vital support for hospices and the end of life care charity sector in Wales, following the money coming to Wales as part of the Chancellor’s announcement before Easter.
“This funding will ease our immediate financial pressures and enable us to continue to deliver front-line services in end of life care for people dying both with and without Covid-19, and their loved ones through this national crisis.
“We have faced a devastating loss of fundraising income as a result of our inability to carry out our usual fundraising activities, which rely so much on people being able to leave their homes and come together to support us in a variety of different ways.
“We are all in this crisis together and Marie Curie, as the UK’s leading end of life care charity, wants to continue to play our part to support Wales through this difficult period. We are fully committed to continuing to provide compassionate care to as many dying people as we can, serve the public, and support the NHS in Wales.”
Earlier in April, Gwent’s St David’s Hospice Care made a desperate plea for support.
The Newport-based hospice, which has to fund 70% of its clinical services through its events, now cancelled, and its shops, all closed, is bracing itself for a massive spike in Covid-19 pandemic referrals.
St David’s Hospice Care events raise £2.5m a year for the hospice and the shops in excess of £1m.
At the time, hospice chief executive Emma Saysell said: “Our plea to supporters , the community and businesses, is urgent and immediate. I fully expect referrals for our services to increase by 40 -50 % over coming days.
“St David’s Hospice Care relies on the income generated by the shops and fundraising to provide its vital hospice care. The NHS contributes 30% of the clinical costs to St David’s Hospice Care, the hospice has to raise the rest through its shops and fundraising to pay the nursing salaries.
“With the shops shut and all fundraising events postponed the hospice faces major cash flow issues. The demand on the hospice clinical services is going to increase as Covid-19 hits its peak and the hospice wants to ensure it can meet this increasing demand, working alongside its NHS colleagues.
“If you would normally support us by shopping in one of our stores perhaps you would consider making a donation at this time, if we have supported you, a friend or family member perhaps you could consider a donation. Any donation, however big or small, will be so gratefully received. We want to be able to meet demand for our care and ensure all our patients receive the best end of life care at these very difficult times.
“So very many concerned people and businesses contacted us directly and me in person asking how they could help during the pandemic. We set up the Just Giving page as the best and most immediate way supporters can help right now.”