NHS funding not enough to meet demand at Leeds hospice, says boss

Liz Stephenson
Liz Stephenson, who has blood cancer, said the care given by hospice staff was priceless [BBC]

NHS funding is not enough to meet the growing demand for care provided by a Leeds-based hospice, its boss has said.

Kerry Jackson, chief executive of St Gemma's Hospice, said demand had soared significantly and the current funding model was not sustainable.

Her comments come as the charity launches a major campaign to raise £200,000 in 36 hours.

The Department for Health and Social Care said it had made more than £350m available to hospices since 2020.

Earlier this week, national charity Hospice UK warned hospices across the UK were facing a £77m funding deficit.

A parliamentary report published in January 2024 found that the current funding model for hospices was "not fit for purpose" and, as a result, the services and the value they provide to the health system are at risk.

Liz Stephenson, who has blood cancer and is being cared for at St Gemma's, said she couldn't think of "anywhere more caring or calmer to be when faced with the inevitable fear of your illness".

She said: "What they can do here to make that final part of your journey calm and steady and feel loved and embraced you can't put a price on it."

Kerry Jackson, chief executive of St Gemma's Hospice
Hospice chief executive Kerry Jackson said money raised from the appeal would fund clinical nurses [BBC]

More than 3,000 people were supported by the hospice last year, but the hospice says only 30% of its funding comes from the NHS.

Ms Jackson said: "I would absolutely say the money we get from the NHS is not sufficient.

"If we really wanted to meet the needs of our population today, tomorrow and into the future as we know demand is growing so significantly, then we really do need a more sustainable and fair NHS funding model."

Speaking about the appeal, Ms Jackson said as a result, the charity had to find ways to do more to sustain the vital care it provided.

The Precious Time Appeal means any donations to the hospice within the 36-hour time frame will be instantly doubled thanks to a group of major donors.

Ms Jackson added: "If we can raise the amount, it sets this financial year off to such a good start for us and will pay for four of our clinical nurse specialists to work with people in their own homes providing support and advice and medication.

"Every year, I'm blown away by how people value their local hospice and how much difference they know it makes and how they continue to support us."

NHS England confirmed that, in 2024/25, it will provide £25m of funding to children's hospices in England.

The NHS West Yorkshire Integrated Care Board said it was committed to working with partners to ensure services were financially sustainable.

Follow BBC Yorkshire on Facebook, X (formerly Twitter) and Instagram. Send your story ideas to yorkslincs.news@bbc.co.uk