Summary of Parliamentary Debate on Hospice Funding

The long-awaited parliamentary debate attended by more than 35 MPs and co-led by MP Peter Gibson and MP Sally-Ann Hart, held on Monday, 22nd April 2024, delved into the pressing issue of hospice funding. With Hospice UK’s revelation of a substantial £77 million collective deficit looming over hospices nationwide, the primary focus of the debate was to draw attention to the difficulties encountered by hospices across the country and emphasise the critical necessity for a revised funding model.

Overview of the Debate on Hospice Funding

MP Sally-Ann Hart set the tone by stressing the pivotal role of hospice care in supporting individuals facing life-limiting illnesses and their families. They underscored the uncertainties looming over the future of end-of-life care, driven by escalating costs and increased demand, which are straining hospices and care providers. Highlighting hospices’ reliance on community generosity for funding, they illuminated the inherent instability and unsustainability of the current funding model, which places hospices under considerable strain.

MP Peter Gibson, drawing from his extensive experience as a trustee of North Yorkshire Hospicecare for over a decade, emphasised the financial hurdles confronting the hospice sector, characterising it as “a matter of life and death.” Crucially, they emphasised that the debate is more than pleas for increased government funding; instead, it presents an opportune moment to explore viable solutions to the challenges hospices face.

Some of the highlights of the debate that were raised include:

  • There is a significant variation in hospice funding levels across different areas.
  • The unpredictability and unsustainability around the current hospice funding model and the vast reliance on fundraising.
  • There is a lack of government funding for hospices in line with inflation rates, which, on average, have only increased by 1% each year despite recent years of elevated inflation.
  • The uncertain continuity of the children’s hospice grant beyond 2024/2025, a vital funding stream for children’s hospices.
  • Rising concerns of financial strains are worsened by increased demand for end-of-life care services.
  • There is a need for better collaboration between integrated care boards (ICBs), NHS, and hospices.
  • A call for more funding to be included in the spending review.

You can watch the whole debate and the response from MP Helen Whately, Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care) here.

Post Debate on Hospice Funding: Health and Social Care Committee Meeting

Following the parliamentary debate on hospice funding in the House of Commons, a Health and Social Care Committee meeting convened on Tuesday, 23rd April 2024. This meeting explored the challenges hospices encounter regarding funding streams, costs, inflation and collaboration with the NHS and ICBs.

The attendees comprised MPs from the debate and key stakeholders such as Toby Porter, Chief Executive of Hospice UK; Ruth Driscoll, Associate Director for Policy and Public Affairs at Marie Curie; James Cooper, Head of External Affairs for Together for Short Lives; and Syed Qamar Abbas, Medical Director of St Clare’s Hospice.

Some of the highlights of this meeting that were raised include:

  • The need for a new model for hospice funding during the current financial challenges hospices face.
  • That palliative and end-of-life care is not being recognised as a strategic priority amongst ICBs.
  • The increased demand for hospice services without increased funding.
  • The Children’s Hospice Grant and its continuity beyond 2024/2025.

You can watch full coverage of the meeting here.