North Yorkshire's pledge to help Harrogate's Saint Michaels' Hospice overcome 'funding gap' as it plans major expansion
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Chief Executive Tony Collins said the offer of more support made by the council’s Scrutiny of Health Committee would help the charity respond to increasing demand for its services.
"We welcome both the committee and our community’s support, which will be vital in helping us deliver on our strategy for being here for 50% more people over the next three years," said Mr Collins.
“While we are working hard to maintain our current service provision, we also have a duty to plan care for the future which is sustainable and addresses the unmet need for care from families living with terminal illness and bereavement.
“Furthermore, the role hospices like Saint Michael’s play in the wider health and social care system can’t be overstated.
"We know hospices are key for offering safe and effective care to our communities at the end of their lives.
"It is only with greater support that we can utilise our experience and expertise to make this possible in the future as the demand for our services grows.”
The meeting earlier this month saw members of North Yorkshire Council’s Scrutiny of Health Committee pledge their support to St Catherine’s Hospice in Scarborough, St Leonard’s Hospice in York, and Saint Michael’s and Herriot Hospices, which are merged as North Yorkshire Hospice Care, based in Harrogate and Thirsk in helping to raise awareness of the issues facing the trusts.
The offer came after members heard from the chief executive officers of all three trusts about the struggle they face in raising sufficient funding to continue to provide adequate end-of-life and palliative services.
This includes specialist inpatient beds, community-based end-of-life care, outpatient clinics, lymphoedema services and bereavement counselling and support.
The chair of the committee, Coun Andrew Lee, said: “I think I speak for the whole committee when I say how shocked, saddened and concerned we are upon hearing the situation within our local hospices and the funding shortfall they face.
“These hospices, and many others, provide a very important and much-needed support network both for patients and their families at a very sad and vulnerable time.
"We must do all we can to raise awareness and support them to allow them to continue to provide this essential service.”
The committee heard a number of factors were contributing to the situation, including lack of funding, increased running costs, reduced income from fundraising and differing funding models and contracts that provide income from the NHS.
Coun Lee said: “The cost of providing services across these three hospices is about £20 million, with more than 70 per cent of that having to be raised through fundraising alone.
“I shall be highlighting this with my colleagues in the NHS as we need to ensure we are all doing our utmost to support and raise awareness of this situation.”
He warned that any significant shortfall in funding could lead to a reduction or closure of some services.
It is not a scenario Saint Michael’s Hospice sees happening any time soon.
The Harrogate-based charity's concern with the increasing funding gap is that it will impede it from expanding its range of services to meet the growing demand.