SPECIALIST palliative care provider Sue Ryder, which runs Sue Ryder Manorlands Hospice near Keighley, is calling on the government to end the funding crisis currently facing the hospice sector – before it is too late.

The plea follows an independent report which reveals that the number of people needing vital end of life care in England will rise by 55 per cent over the next ten years.

Due to this increase in demand, the running costs of the palliative care sector will reach £947 million a year by 2030. If government funding remains the same, the hospice sector will be required to fundraise £597 million every year in order to keep hospices open.

Locally, Sue Ryder runs Sue Ryder Manorlands Hospice in Oxenhope near Keighley, which provides expert palliative care to people with life-limiting conditions across Bradford, Wharfedale, Craven and Airedale, as well as supporting their families.

Last year, only 29 per cent of the hospice’s costs were funded by statutory income. The remaining 71 per cent was covered via fundraising efforts, donations from the local community and income from Sue Ryder’s charity shops.

The charity says the third sector has papered over the cracks for as long as possible. Without a commitment from the government to fund 70 per cent of the costs for the palliative care sector, there is a serious risk it will collapse.

While increasing the statutory funding to 70 per cent will cost the government an additional £313 million per year, the collapse of the independent hospice sector would result in the NHS having to provide end of life care services, at an additional cost of £484 million each year for the government.

Not only that, the NHS would not have the capacity to provide the same level of specialist holistic end of life support that hospices offer to patients and their families.

Heidi Travis, Chief Executive at Sue Ryder, said: “I think it will come as a surprise to many that their local hospice is reliant on the generosity of members of the public who choose to donate or fundraise.

“Put plainly, in order to pay the salaries of our doctors and nurses who provide expert care, pain and symptom management to people at the end of their lives, we rely on people buying second-hand clothes from our charity shops or running a marathon and asking their friends and family for sponsorship. It is unfathomable that such a critical part of our healthcare system is hanging by a thread.”

Robbie Moore, MP for Keighley and Ilkley, said: “Hospices play a key function in our healthcare system. Here in the Keighley and Ilkley constituency we have the fantastic Sue Ryder Manorlands facility which provides patients, families and loved ones with the support they need at what is a very difficult time.

“Many constituents know somebody who has been a patient at Manorlands. It has helped and supported many local families through tough times. It is my hope that the Government works with hospices like Sue Ryder to look at the issue of future funding for palliative care.”

Sue Ryder runs hospices and palliative care hubs across England. As a result of the coronavirus outbreak, its charity shops closed overnight, and fundraising activities stopped with immediate effect. The charity is currently facing a funding shortfall of over £1 million a month whilst its doctors and nurses continue to play a vital part in the coronavirus effort.