Hospice predicting financial loss ‘of at least £2million’ over next 12 months

PUBLISHED: 06:55 27 August 2020

St Peter's Hospice chief executive Frank Noble.	Picture: St Peters Hospice

St Peter's Hospice chief executive Frank Noble. Picture: St Peters Hospice


A charity which cares for adults with life-limiting illnesses has had to close three beds as it attempts to plug a funding deficit of ‘at least’ £2million.

The Times can exclusively reveal St Peter’s Hospice has temporarily closed three beds in its 15-bed inpatient unit and is predicting a financial loss of ‘at least £2million’ over the next 12 months.

The hospice has seen demand for its services rise during the coronavirus lockdown, but with fundraising events cancelled and all the charity’s 51 shops closed for more than four months, its income has taken ‘a nose dive’.

The charity’s chief executive Frank Noble told the Times: “During lockdown we have kept all our services going, from April to June the number of patients using our in patient unit rose by 36 per cent. Demand has been up but our income has taken a dive.

“We are reducing resources, which includes temporarily closing three beds in the inpatient unit. This has been driven by staff leaving but us choosing not to replace them due to the funding challenges we face.

“We have chosen to hold the vacancies for community staff and nurses as we can’t afford to replace them.

“We are expecting this to be 12 months of recovery. We are asking for help if people can volunteer in shops and at events when they get back going again and to come to our shops and support them.”

The charity upped staff on its 24-hour advice line and increased support for the NHS, care homes, prisons and other hubs of infection who have care of patients with life-limiting illnesses, while community teams found new ways to support patients virtually, as well as continuing to visit them at home.

Day services will be closed for the medium term.

The hospice is in negotiations with the clinical commissioning group, which provides 19 per cent of the hospice’s income, to see if extra cash can be made available.

A hospice spokesman said: “Like many other charities, we have taken a large hit to our funding which will impact us for the foreseeable future.

“We know now that the costs to run our services for 2020 will far outstrip our funding and we estimate a loss of at least £2 million this year. And that’s with a fair wind and no further storms.

“In reality, this figure could be even higher. Put simply, a loss of this size means our services are at risk.

“These decisions were driven by both economic and safety factors but sadly we know that these will not be the last hard choices.

“The last few months have been a time of change beyond all imagining for everyone at St Peter’s Hospice, for our community, and the world beyond.

“During lockdown, the need for our services and care has increased considerably but delivering that care has become harder. Increasingly complex PPE requirements, changing rules over shielding and visitors, and increased pressure on the NHS have inevitably impacted our teams.

“They have risen to the challenge admirably but heartbreakingly we have seen higher levels of anxiety within our patients and their loved ones, and the real trauma of isolation within our community at a time when no one should be alone.”

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