MP praises Prospect Hospice during Commons debate

By Barrie Hudson - 25 April 2024

  • South Swindon MP Sir Robert Buckland

    South Swindon MP Sir Robert Buckland

South Swindon MP Sir Robert Buckland has spoken of the vital role of Prospect Hospice during a Commons debate about the challenges faced by the hospice movement.

He highlighted inflation and the impact of covid on volunteering as among those challenges, and noted that Prospect faces a shortfall of over £1m.

Sir Robert said: "Any of us who have had friends or family who have gone through end of life care will know exactly how the hospice movement plays such an important part in ensuring that death is dignified, that it is dealt with properly, and that the wider family considerations are very much at the heart of the way in which hospices support people in that position.

"I'm particularly lucky in that the local hospice that serves Swindon and the North and East area of Wiltshire is situated almost next door to where I live in my constituency in Wroughton. 

"It's Prospect Hospice. It was founded in 1980. It has grown and thrived due to the generosity and goodwill of our local community.

"We have 30 percent of our income comes from fundraising appeals and activities and another 31 percent comes from the profit made from the charity shops that exist throughout the length and breadth of our area.

"We have many in Swindon, in fact we opened a new one in Parks, in the Parks shopping centre, only a few months ago, which is already doing very well and serving that local community admirably."

Sir Robert noted that three quarters of the hospice's funding comes from the public and the remainder from the NHS.

He added: "Costs have increased significantly, and the sad challenge that we've faced in our hospice is that we've had to decrease the number of beds from, in fact we've halved the number of beds from 12 to six, and we've had to close up the day therapy unit."

Noting the financial shortfall at Prospect Hospice, Sir Robert said: "With the best will in the world, it is going to be very difficult to make that up, which is why this debate is important not just for Prospect but also for Julia's House, which is the children's hospice serving Wiltshire and Dorset, based in Devizes, which I visit very often and know the benefit for children who were my constituents."

A Prospect Hospice spokesperson said: "The debate lasted for nearly four hours with a cross-party selection of MPs speaking out, demonstrating strong support for improving the way hospices are funded."

Points raised included:

- The current hospice funding model is unpredictable and unsustainable, resulting in the future of the sector being uncertain 

- There are significant variations in hospice funding levels in different areas which must be addressed 

- Financial concerns are being made worse by inflationary pressures and rising demand 

- The sector is on track for a deficit of £77m for the last financial year, the worst figures for two decades, and this has led to some hospices having to reduce their services

- That end-of-life care needs to be seen as part of the healthcare system, not viewed separately


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