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‘Unacceptable’ MP’s pledge to help save our hospices

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As the Express revealed on Monday, fundraisers said the sector was facing oblivion as income streams dry up. Rocketing energy bills have exacerbated a perilous cash situation where most are forced to rely on cake sales and raffles to keep afloat.

And without urgent help some of Britain’s 200 facilities which care for more than 200,000 adults and ­children every year face closure.

Mr Gibson, MP for Darlington and co-chair of the all-party parliamentary group on hospice and end-of-life care, said: “During the pandemic, the Government recognised the enormous value hospices bring to the wider health and care system and provided emergency funding that allowed hospices to support the NHS by extending their care to even more people.

“Hospices are now at risk again and are facing an ­estimated £115million a year in additional costs due to rises in energy bills, fuel costs, employer National Insurance contributions and ­seeking to match the NHS pay award. It is unacceptable that such a critical health service remains financially vulnerable.”

The average adult hospice in England gets 32 per cent of its ­funding from health budgets, while children’s hospices get 17 per cent.

It means all rely heavily on ­community fundraising events to keep their heads above water.

But with energy bills rising people with complex end-of-life needs could soon be left without support as ­hospices are forced to close for good.

St Peter and St James Hospice in North Chailey in East Sussex said its £93,000 annual energy bills are set to double.

Giles Witcomb, its director of income generation, said: “Charity shop income is precarious with household budgets affected by ­inflation affecting spending.”

But Mr Gibson said hospices must be ­sustainably funded.

He added: “They should not have to rely on ­unpredictable income sources, such as fundraising.

“They need the financial confidence to provide the high-quality services so many depend on.” 

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