Health bosses insist hospices won’t close

Cransley Hospice in Kettering
Cransley Hospice in Kettering

Health bosses have insisted two Northamptonshire hospices won’t close following reports of cuts, but they confirmed plans to increase charitable donations with a view to reducing NHS funding.

Initial figures published by the Nene and Corby Clinical Commissioning Group suggested Cransley Hospice in Kettering and Cynthia Spencer Hospice in Northampton could have their funding cut by £2m over the next two to three years, but this figure has since been withdrawn.

The commissioning group, which has an annual budget of £653m, would like to see the hospices’ funding more like that of the majority of hospices in the country, with 70 per cent raised through charitable means and 30 per cent given by the NHS.

The current arrangement is that about 70 per cent of the funding is from the NHS while the remaining 30 per cent is sourced from charitable donations.

During a meeting today (Wednesday), senior officials from the commissioning group said they were working with trustees from the two hospices on plans to increase the amount of charitable funding they receive, in order to allow a reduction in NHS funding.

They estimate that £1.5m will have to be raised for the two hospices in order to replace the current NHS funding.

They refused to be drawn on a timescale, but they said there would be a need for targets.

Nick Willmore, Programme Director at the commissioning group, said: “We have got to protect the services. We are not looking to destabilise the services.

“There will be flexibility, but [also] a need for targets.”

When asked what would happen if the hospices were not able to raise enough money to replace the NHS funding, Mr Willmore said: “That’s part of our risk.

“I think it’s realistic that they can raise enough money for the two hospices.”

Pam Nock, Chair of the Friends of Cynthia Spencer Hospice, said: “We have been meeting with the trust now since March. We are certainly up for the challenge of meeting any new targets placed in front of us. We need time to do that. We have been aware that things would change with the commissioning group coming in.

“We have already increased our fundraising team.”

Dr Darin Seiger, Chair of Nene CCG, denied reports that the hospices would close. He also said Cransley Hospice could soon move to an alternative building.

He said: “The building which Cransley Hospice operate from isn’t their own building, they lease it. We are in discussions about an alternative building for them that they can own and manage. It would be very close to where Cransley Hospice is now.

“We have not said that we are going to cut funding. We said we are going to look to increase the amount of charitable funding.

“We highly value the hospices. We are discussing with the trustees as to how we can help to support them in raising the same level of funding that other hospices do in the country.”

He added: “As GPs we are very passionate about end of life care because we know there’s only one chance to get it right.

“We have inherited services from the PCT. We reviewed all of those services we inherited and bench marked them against other groups, and we identified hospices in our area as an outlier.

“Nationally, 70 per cent of funding is from charitable resources and 30 per cent comes form the NHS, but locally it’s 70 per cent from the NHS and 30 per cent from charitable donations.

“We know that out neighbouring hospices have enormous fundraising power.

“Nationally the country has enormous challenges, with £20b savings needed by 2015. Locally our challenge is to make £39m worth of deficiency savings by this year.

“That’s very, very large efficiency savings that we have to make.

“The hospices have tremendous pressures. We are committed to working with the trustees.”

Dr Seiger also spoke about the trust’s desire to increase the amount of homes deaths.

He said: “People prefer to die at home. 20 per cent of people are able to die at home at the minute. We are aiming for 29 per cent.”