Health Secretary calls on footballers to donate wages to struggling hospices

The Health Secretary Matt Hancock has called on Premier League footballers to donate a portion of their wages to struggling hospices.

ITV News has revealed in recent weeks huge financial losses suffered by providers of end of life care since the start of the coronavirus crisis.

Hospice UK said the sector is losing £70 million each month because fundraising has all but stopped and donations have dried up.

Last week, ITV News revealed some hospices are running out of basic medical and cleaning supplies, and have been forced to cut end of life care.

Mr Hancock is now calling on footballers to help.

“I've seen that some, for instance footballers, are now making significant donations to charities and I really welcome that, that's exactly what we need to see," Hancock said.

“But instead of having a row about this I think that people should come together and make a contribution.

“The hospices of this country have traditionally been largely funded by charity and charity shops. Those shops have had to close so I'm putting more money - taxpayer's money - into hospices to support them but why don't our footballers club together and support our hospices and support the national effort that we're all in?

“I think that is the sort of thing that would go down really well and help bring the country together.”

The comments from Mr Hancock are the first time the Government has committed to directly help hospices through the coronavirus crisis.

Premier League players will donate money to the NHS. Credit: PA

The vast majority of hospice care is paid for through public donations, with the average children’s hospice receiving just 17% of it’s funding from the government.

Adult hospices get around 30%.

Hospice UK told ITV News any extra help would be a “real lifeline”.

“Football clubs and hospices are central to their local communities and already work closely together,” said Tracey Bleakley, CEO of Hospice UK.

“Any additional funds donated by clubs would be a real lifeline and help hospices look after local families both now and in the future.

“Adult and children’s hospices across the UK will help over 250,000 families this year by providing end of life care and bereavement support and relieving pressure on hospitals.

“Whilst crucial to the Covid-19 effort they only receive 30% of their funding from the NHS and are currently losing £70 million every month in fundraised income.”

Jordan Henderson has been leading a plan to organise a collective donation. Credit: PA

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson has been attempting to organise a coronavirus fund among Premier League captains to donate wages to the NHS.

The Professional Footballers’ Association, the union which represents players, has previously said all Premier League footballers “want to, and will, play their part in making significant financial contributions in these unprecedented times” and that includes “the NHS - whose workers - many of whom are football fans - are doing so much for us all.”

The PFA has been critical of Hancock’s previous comments calling for footballers to “take a pay cut and play their part".

In a statement on its website, the union said: “The (Premier League’s) proposed 30% salary deduction over a 12-month period equates to over £500 million in wage reductions and a loss in tax contributions of over £200 million to the government.

"What effect does this loss of earning to the government mean for the NHS?

“Was this considered in the Premier League proposal and did the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock factor this in when asking players to take a salary cut?”

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