Hospiscare has warned that it may have to cut services if it doesn’t receive more funding from the NHS.

The charity costs nearly £10 million a year to run and currently receives 18 per cent of this from Government funds allocated by the local NHS funding body, the Devon Integrated Care Board (ICB). Hospiscare has to raise the rest of the money itself.

With donations falling and the cost of providing services rising, Hospiscare is facing a £2.5 million funding gap and has asked the ICB to increase its contribution, pointing out that the national average percentage of funding provided to hospices is 37 per cent of running costs.

Chief executive Andrew Randall said: “We’ve had frank discussions over the last 18 months with the Devon ICB about increasing our funding in line with the national average but so far they have refused.

“It doesn’t make sense because if we have to reduce our services, it will put even more pressure on NHS services and our NHS colleagues locally.”

Exmouth Journal: Alasdair Cameron, CEO of Sidmouth Hospice at Home, with Simon Jupp MP

The MP for East Devon, Simon Jupp, has now joined the debate. This week he wrote to Dr Sarah Wollaston, the chair of NHS Devon ICB, asking for Hospiscare’s funding to be increased to match the national average percentage. He also asked for the ICB to start funding Sidmouth Hospice at Home, which currently receives nothing from NHS Devon ICB.

He said: “Local hospice care providers like Sidmouth Hospice at Home and Hospiscare provide incredible support and comfort to so many in East Devon.

“I firmly believe fairer funding would help their amazing teams continue to provide compassionate quality care whilst preventing hospital admission and extra demand on the NHS system.

“I first raised this matter last year and I really hope Devon NHS finally listens to our county’s fantastic hospice care providers and gives them the funding they need – and deserve – to continue supporting Devon’s patients and their families.”

A spokesperson for NHS Devon said: “We recognise the high level of care hospice teams across the county provide to patients and their families at a hugely emotional time in their lives.

“Each year, we provide financial support, in the form of grant funding, to the four adult hospices in Devon that operate inpatient beds.

“The NHS in Devon faces severe financial challenges – this year, for the second year running, we are forecasting a deficit of more than £40 million - and we are having to take difficult decisions on spending. However, we are keen to keep working closely with our hospices to explore funding issues.”

Toby Porter, CEO of Hospice UK said: "Hospiscare provides vital support to dying people and their families across Devon. The data is clear - Hospiscare is currently receiving very little government funding in comparison to the national average. This seems arbitrary and unfair.

“Like other hospices, Hospiscare is providing essential services for some of the most vulnerable people in society, those at the end of their lives or grieving. It is hard to see why they wouldn’t be properly supported by Devon ICB to do this. It is not realistic for the ICB to expect hospice donors to dig deeper and deeper to pay for costs that should be met by central funding.

“ICBs have a duty to ensure palliative and end-of-life care in their area is well funded. Hospice UK has been warning for over a year about the impact that insufficient government funding will have on essential hospice services. It’s getting critical.”

Hospiscare is asking local residents to help its campaign for fairer funding. A letter can be downloaded from http://www.hospiscare.co.uk/fair to email to Devon ICB by 15 December 2023.