Hospice funding shortage may impact local people

By Barrie Hudson - 26 April 2022


Prospect Hospice says that without an extra £600,000 a year it will forced to help fewer local people.

The Wroughton-based charity says it will no longer be able to support as many patients and families who desperately need its specialist end-of-life care unless the money is found.

Donations from the community must increase by £600,000, a rise of 10 percent.

It costs Prospect Hospice around £7.5m per year to provide the care that patients and families in Swindon and north east Wiltshire depend on.

Three quarters of that sum - £5.5m – comes in the form of donations from the community, while the remaining quarter comes from statutory sources such as the NHS.

Irene Watkins, chief executive of Prospect Hospice, says the combination of the pandemic and a long-standing freeze on statutory funding has severely affected the charity’s income.

“Like all charities, we saw a sharp decline in income from March 2020 as our shops closed and fundraising activities were cancelled," she said.

"This had a huge impact on our income which is still to recover, but we also have two further challenges.

“Firstly, our NHS funding has not changed for the last nine years, so in real terms it is worth far less today than it was nine years ago. Secondly, despite this reduced income, our services have grown to meet increasing need in the community, with more people requiring our specialist care and support.”

“This decline in funding and growth in services cannot continue. We have now reached the point where we know there are already people we are unable to help and, unless we can raise the additional £600,000 a year, we will have no choice but to reduce the number of patients and families we can support even more. 

"This is a distressing loss for those people in our community that desperately need our care and support.

“Because of our supporters in our community we are able to care for those that need us but without that support we won’t be able to help hundreds of people and their families every year."

Nancy Heath, whose BBC Radio Wiltshire journalist husband Ashley died at Prospect Hospice’s inpatient unit on 25 January 2021, says the communities of Swindon and north east Wiltshire are extremely lucky to have Prospect Hospice.

“Ash got fabulous care – it meant I could be with him, but also have a break, knowing that he was well-cared for,” she added.

“He was very keen that I should remain his wife, not his carer, and Prospect Hospice enabled that to happen.

“Prospect Hospice really focuses on the patient and family, rather than the illness. I found it incredibly comforting to have a nurse in the room who had done all this before and could reassure me. It was so important that Ashley was listened to and died in the way he wanted to. It’s amazing that a local charity can provide such fantastic care and do so without charging a penny.”

People can support Prospect Hospice by setting up a monthly donation. A donation of £5 a month could pay for three home visits by a specialist, while £10 a month could pay for a nurse’s shift on the inpatient unit. 

Further information can be found at www.prospect-hospice.net

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