Hospices support families at the most difficult time in their lives as their loved ones receive end of life care.
Every year, 300,000 patients across over 200 adult and children’s hospice sites access hospice care. In Barnsley, I know how important Barnsley Hospice is to local people. I visited again a few weeks ago for their Spring Fayre, and whenever I visit, I am struck by their kindness and dedication.
Like hospices across the country, Barnsley Hospice rely largely on charity donations, and I look forward to completing the Barnsley 10k in a few months to make my small contribution. A big well done to all those who took part in the Hospice’s ‘30 for 30’ walk, which saw participants walk 10k, 20k or 30k to mark the 30th anniversary of the facility. The event has raised over £7,000 in donations. I know that so many people across Barnsley give their time, money and commitment to support the Hospice, and this is very much appreciated by those who benefit from this kindness.
Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice serves the local area. I visited last year, to see the amazing work they do. As well as providing medical care, Bluebell Wood support families to create memories and fun, including music therapy, wellbeing groups and sibling support. Like so many hospices across the country, Bluebell Wood faces a number of challenges in terms of staff recruitment and retention.
In June 2022, Together for Short Lives found that children’s hospices across England have a higher vacancy rate than the NHS, as paediatric palliative care is a highly specialised discipline. Hospices are also finding it difficult to secure the level of fundraising they need to be able to operate effectively, as due to the cost-of-living crisis, supporters simply cannot offer the same level of donations that they have done previously. Bluebell Wood makes up to 85 percent of their budget through fundraising and donations.
I have raised some of issues facing Hospices in Parliament both in a debate and at PMQs, as well as in a meeting with the Minister. Hospices are facing a critical funding shortfall of almost £50 million, with Hospice UK predicting that this will rise to £77 million, and Together for Short Lives estimate that there was almost a £500 difference in hospice funding per child depending on the region they live in.
Our hospices need a longer-term, more sustainable plan, to deal with staffing, energy bills and every day clinical care. Wherever you are, you should be able to access hospice care. The quality of care should not be dependent on your postcode. 
Thank you to the medics, the staff, and the volunteers who work so hard to raise funds for and keep Hospices going, especially to Barnsley Hospice and Bluebell Wood, but to all staff across the country.