Fears a lack of funding could push children’s hospices to their limits

Children's hospices across the North West are calling for more Government support to help them meet the needs of seriously ill children.

On average, council funding covers just 4 percent of the costs, leaving organisations to rely heavily on donations.

But due to the pandemic, 77% of children's hospices expect their incomes to fall this year, and 83% are going to have to spend more than they are bringing in. That deficit is set to average at 320 thousands pounds. 

Andy Fletcher, the CEO of the charity Together for short lives said: "Broadly they have weathered the pandemic reasonably well, and that's partly because of the generosity of the local community supporting them, and also because the government put in some really important short term emergency funding, and that's helped them get through this year. But the future looks much more uncertain.

''The Government needs to get a grip of social care, which it has been talking about, and put in place a long term funding solution that children and families and the services that support them can rely on. Because the children we're talking about don't have the luxury of time to wait, so it's really important that the Government's plans for funding social care are brought forwards, urgently.''

  • ITV News has approached the Department of Health and Social Care for comment.

Brian House, Blackpool

Eight-year-old Violet Crowther has been a regular visitor at Brian House Children's Hospice in Blackpool since she was 6-months-old.

The youngster has cerebral palsy and epilepsy, uses a feeding tube, and needs her mum Sophie 24 hours a day. 

Violet has been visiting Brian House since she was 6-months-old. Credit: ITV News

Monthly sleepovers at the hospice, in the care of highly trained professionals, is the only time they are apart. For Sophie, this support is a lifeline:

''Being a single parent, you don't get a lot of rest at all, not a lot of time to be me, I'm always going to be mum. Which is great but sometimes you just need a little breather and you do count the days to the next 12 hours. 

''I think it makes me a better mum, because you get to recharge your batteries.''

  • Sophie Nordwind, Violet's mum.

But despite the vital work being carried out at places like Brian House, bosses have had to make some tough decisions during what has been a difficult year.

David Houston, CEO, Trinity Hospice / Brian House Children's Hospice said: ''Sadly we did have to make some redundancies, thankfully the vast majority of those were voluntary, but we had no choice, and that again was very much the case for many hospices in the UK.

''So as we try to now rebuild, and to build back that support for those families, we really do need everybody's help.

''One of the really depressing things is that children's hospices only support around 40 - 50 % of the numbers of children and young people with life limiting conditions that could benefit from hospice support. So there's an enormous unmet demand that's out there.''

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