North Wales hospices getting 'less than half' of funding received by southern counterparts

Watch the video report from ITV Wales journalist Ian Lang

Hospices in north Wales have launched a campaign for more funding after claiming they are receiving less money than their south Wales counterparts.

St David's Hospice in Llandudno, St Kentigern Hospice in St Asaph and Wrexham-based Nightingale House Hospice said they receive 16% of their funding needs from their health board towards the cost of running their services every year.

That leaves them to secure the other 84% - which equates to millions of pounds - through public donations and fundraising.

They said hospices in south Wales receive between 30-40% annually from their respective health boards, as do those in England.

The sites have asked for a contribution of 30% towards their clinical costs to ensure they can continue to operate.

St Kentigern Hospice is one of three sites campaigning for more funding.

St David's Hospice said they and others in north Wales have been "chronically underfunded" for too long.

Chief executive Trystan Pritchard said: "We don't want more than anyone else and are not asking for special treatment, we just want a level playing field for hospices in this region - that should not be too much to ask.

"Our standards of care are as good as anywhere else in the UK; we provide a first-class service and the patients and families in North Wales deserve better.

"Given that a hospice bed costs £600 a night, and just £100 of that is paid for by the health board, a 30% contribution is a fair compromise."

"We are constantly told that we are an essential service and part of the NHS family, but the reality is that we are always the poor relation."

The campaign comes after a bid to access emergency funding following the onset of the pandemic and a subsequent decline in revenue, as charity shops were forced to close and fundraising events were cancelled.

Each site came up with new and unique ways to raise money. St David's Hospice raised more than £100,000 through sales of a t-shirt featuring the now famous Llandudno goats.

Steve Parry, chief executive of Nightingale House, believes there has been a long overdue need for consistency of statutory funding across the hospice sector in Wales.

He said: "The financial pressure brought on by the Covid pandemic has further exposed the increasing need for an equitable funding base. The Health Board cannot keep ignoring this issue, it is not going to go away."

Iain Mitchell, Chief Executive of St Kentigern Hospice, added: "We must not - and should not have to - keep relying on the goodwill of our amazing communities to ensure our survival.

"We take complex patients from NHS hospitals and save patients having to go into hospital in the first place. We care for them in our hospices, but the Health Board are not funding a fair share of this significant cost despite there being very clear benefits in terms of patient care and clear savings."

St David's Hospice raised more than £100,000 through sales of a t-shirt featuring the now famous Llandudno goats.

Dr Chris Stockport, Executive Director of Primary & Community Care at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, said: "Hospices provide incredibly important services and we recognise the enormous support they provide to patients, families and carers.

"We recognise the financial challenge facing the Hospices in North Wales, in particular during the pandemic, and we are working to support them as much as possible.

"However, the services that we provide directly to the public also require significant additional funding, such as funds to support efforts to reduce the backlog of patients waiting for treatment due to COVID-19.

"We have provided an above inflation increase to the Hospices over the last two years and we are committed to working with them to continue to increase our contribution in the future that does not compromise our core NHS services."