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Hospice Calls for Change in Funding Rules

Charities Hospice UK, Together for Short Lives and Marie Curie are warning that a pay rise for NHS staff could have a damaging impact on charitable hospices in England and put vital services at risk unless they receive financial help to meet extra costs for hospice staff.  In the wake of the news that an £800 million Government funding life-line, put in place to support non-NHS organisations match a NHS staff 6.5% pay increase, will not be available to all charitable hospices across the UK, Springhill Hospice Chief Executive, Julie Halliwell is calling for change.

Julie Halliwell, Chief Executive of Springhill Hospice said:

“At Springhill Hospice we fully endorse the NHS staff pay rise, however implementing this increase across our organisation, without Government backed funding, could have a damaging impact on the vital care services we offer our community.

“We’re calling on the Government to provide support not just for Springhill but for all hospices, to reduce the impact of the award on hospice recruitment and retention, as well as help protect against a possible reduction in our services that may result from this extra expenditure.”

Springhill Hospice estimates that changes resulting from the NHS pay deal could mean that, over the course of the next 3 years, an additional £250,000 will be added to its running costs, which already stand at over £3million annually.

“The Hospice already relies on the community for in excess of £2million contribution each year, I can only envisage that any additional ‘ask’ will not be able to be met by our community, so sadly we may have to look at service reduction, which in turn will place an additional burden on an already stretched NHS” Julie added.

On a national level, Hospice UK estimate that that its 200 member hospices will have to spend an extra £100million over the next three years – equivalent to 2% of the funding that the Government has put aside to fund the increase for staff working in the NHS.

The Government recently outlined in a Written Ministerial Statement how it intends to address the impact of the pay award on non-NHS providers, including hospices.

The Government will allow non-NHS providers - that are providing NHS services and that employ staff on an Agenda for Change contract - to access part of the £800 million that is being made available to the NHS this year for staff pay. Only those organisations that match Agenda for Change terms and conditions will be able to access the extra funding.   

Like most hospices, Springhill use Agenda for Change terms and conditions as a guide to their local pay policies for clinical staff - rather than matching the terms and conditions exactly – so it looks likely Springhill, along with the majority of hospices would not be able to access this funding.  

Speaking of the Agenda for Change contract, Julie Halliwell said;

“The Government has now set out how it will support non-NHS organisations, deciding that only those who employ staff on an Agenda for Change contract will be able to access the additional funding the Government is setting aside to fund the pay increase.  With very few charitable hospices employing their staff in this way, Springhill will be among the many hospices who miss out on the Government’s funding which could result not only in a strain on their already stretched resources but also have a knock on effect to local NHS resources, should we have to cut back our services”.

Julie, whose concerns have been already been brought the attention of Steve Barclay MP, Minister of State for Health by Rochdale’s Labour MP Tony Lloyd, is hoping that, the Government will reconsider their eligibility criteria, which will benefit the Hospice and the wider community.