Government must ensure that hospices are given vital financial support

Amongst all the shocking statistics of deaths attributable to Covid-19 it is easy to forget the large numbers of people who die from other natural causes each day. Many of these people are cared for, with compassion and dignity, in our hospices.

Hospices are an intrinsic part of our society. They also take pressure of our hospitals and social care services, which is vital at the current time.

However, they rely very heavily on voluntary donations, charity shops and other fundraising to cover their day-to-day expenses. It is no great surprise that this funding has largely dried up. Recent reports that hospices are fast running out of cash should set alarm bells ringing.

Hospices closing in the coming weeks would be a catastrophe which we simply cannot allow at the current time.

Last week Rob Bird, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group at Kent CC, wrote to the Minister for Care, Helen Whately, about the financial plight of hospices. Liberal Democrat county councillors also wrote to their local MPs.

We urged the Government to step in now to ensure that hospices have the necessary emergency funding. This needs to be provided through grants as hospices are not likely to be in a position to repay any loans for some time to come.

Yesterday Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, stated that the Government is now looking at the problems facing hospices. This is welcome.

However, his suggestion that professional footballers should donate a portion of their salaries to hospices risks many hospices being left out. How many professional footballers live in East Kent, or Devon and Cornwall?

It is clear that the Government has to ensure that funding for each and every hospice is sustained throughout the Covid-19 crisis. The Government needs to act now.