This #ChildrensHospiceWeek, our Chief Executive Nigel Harding has been highlighting how a funding gap has led to Shooting Star Children’s Hospices having to change its respite provision.
“Our staff help children with life-limiting conditions and their families to make every moment count, each and every day. So it was with the heaviest heart that I spent the lead-up to Children’s Hospice Week talking to the press and writing to MPs in our two hospices’ catchment areas – MPs including Boris Johnson, Jeremy Hunt, Michael Gove, Dominic Raab and the man who controls the purse strings, Chancellor Phillip Hammond,” explains Nigel.
“We, as a charity, have undergone a number of changes in recent years to ensure we’re running as efficiently as possible without affecting the level of outstanding care we provide. However, we’re now at the point where, as of November, we’re having to change our respite provision due to increased referrals and funding pressures; our clinical team has looked at how we deliver our care service to ensure we’re able to work responsively and allocate respite provision where it can help most. The result of this is that we will be reducing the amount of respite care, at our hospices and via our Hospice at Home team, that we can deliver.”
Shooting Star Children’s Hospices has seen demand for services continue to grow over the last five years with referrals increasing by 38% in the last year alone. However, in the current financial climate and with just 10% of income coming from government funding, we’re unable to increase provision to meet the growing need.
“We just don’t have the government funding to meet this increased need – we’ve received £640,000 as a core grant from NHS England for the last few years. In our case that formula has been in place since 2008 when we were much smaller and less busy. This is despite the fact the area we serve covers 7.5% of the UK population.
“As medical advances increase, the number of children who can survive with complex conditions goes up too, so does the number of referrals. Children who would have died in paediatric units five years ago are now welcomed through our doors.
“We understand that even if the government pledges to increase funding, this isn’t something that’s going to happen overnight. We need to raise £10 million every year to cover our costs, so we continue to be heavily reliant on our local community to donate and fundraise for us. Our supporters go above and beyond in their fundraising efforts and raising awareness, from community events, taking on challenges, our wonderful corporate supporters and through our 13 shops – every penny raised helps us to make every moment count.
“We really do need you now more than ever. I urge you to please continue to help us provide the outstanding care and support so desperately needed by families in your community.”