Rachael Maskell MP
Rachael Maskell MP

Rachael Maskell, MP for York Central has spoken out in Parliament to demand urgent action from the Government to address the shortfall in hospice funding.

Ms Maskell used her speech to highlight how local hospice, St Leonard’s, faces a huge, £1 million deficit this year and has only received a 1.8% increase in funding from Government to cope with the pressures of inflation.

On top of the funding shortfall, the hospice has also seen a huge increase in the number of patients cared for in the last decade. In 2016, it provided care for 200 patients whereas today, through the growth of its services including Hospice@Home, it is now caring for more than 700 patients, giving people real choice at the end of their lives with the care and support they need.

During the debate, Ms Maskell outlined that without a significant long term funding plan from central Government and with rising staff and energy costs stretching hospices finances to the extreme, services will inevitably be cut, impacting on patient care, if it were not for the resourcefulness of the brilliant team, including those who give their time to fundraise.

In the debate the MP for York Central welcomed the changes to the Health and Care Act (2022) which created a legal obligation for palliative care to be available for all who required it, but to deliver this expanded service, Government needs to come up with funding and not expect the new Integrated Care Boards alone to foot the bill.

According to Hospice UK, 96% of all hospices in the UK are budgeting for a deficit in 2023/24.

Rachael Maskell MP for York Central says:

“It was an honour to speak in this important debate on hospice funding and to have the opportunity to pay tribute to all the staff, past and present, at both Martin House and St Leonard’s hospices in York for their services and their love, care, professionalism, sacrifice and dedication for their patients and the families they serve every day.

 “Yet for our dedicated hospice staff to provide this essential care, they are having to rely on increasingly fragile resources. We know that without urgent intervention the cost-of-living scandal will have a devastating impact on the care that hospices in the UK are able to provide going forward.

“It is ridiculous to think that in a cost-of-living crisis, such a critical part of the health and care system, providing specialised care and support can be run on a shoestring. Rising costs present a huge challenge to the sector, completely outstripping the ability to raise money through fundraising or income from charity shops.

“We know that on average, adult hospices have to raise around two-thirds of their income through charity fundraising. It is simply not a sustainable situation and looking to the future, it is critical that the Government protect hospices and the essential services they provide.

“We should all be able to live knowing that there is security at the end of life. That is why I have joined together with end-of-life charities, campaigners, families and other members of Parliament to demand immediate action from the Government to ensure our hospices can continue to deliver vital services to those in need.”

Link to Ms Maskell’s full contribution as recorded by Hansard here.

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