Ashgate Hospicecare Chief Executive Barbara-Anne Walker has this week updated its 340 staff that the hospice is seeking voluntary redundancies and other savings including working hour reductions and said that the charity may not be able to avoid making compulsory job cuts in the next few months.
The hospice which was already operating a budget deficit before COVID – meaning that despite huge local support it was having to spend more than it was bringing in – has seen its funds badly affected by the pandemic.
While the hospice’s Urgent Appeal was a great success, hugely well supported by the local community and has even seen the charity shortlisted for a national award, the hospice continues to face long-term and serious funding challenges.
Ashgate estimates that the Coronavirus pandemic is likely to cost the hospice at least £2million in lost revenue and expects its income will continue to suffer in future years.
Added to that, the amount Ashgate receives from local health budgets has not increased since 2014, a decline in real terms. The hospice is currently in discussion with NHS Derby and Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) about some of its funding challenges and the need for health budgets to increase in line with the increased demand the hospice is facing for its specialist and compassionate end of life care, which it provides to patients with complex palliative care needs.
While Derby and Derbyshire CCG have said that they are looking into limited extra funding to help the hospice get through the next few months, it looks set to be well short of the amount needed, leaving the charity no choice but to seek voluntary redundancies. It is unable to rule out compulsory job losses in the coming months.
Chief Executive Barbara-Anne Walker says: “Heading into winter during a national pandemic the last thing I want to do as Chief Executive of Ashgate is seek voluntary redundancies. But we are faced with very little choice. The CCG have said they may be able to provide us with a limited amount of funds for the current year only, but this does not allow for further risk to fundraising and our retail shops this year nor does it, in any way, tackle the underlying imbalance in our costs of patient care and statutory funding.
“We urgently need to know what funding we will receive for the next year, commencing April 2021, without which we have to make plans now based on what we do know.
“We are facing significant additional financial challenges that are going to affect our income for months if not years to come. While our shops are reopening, footfall in retail remains down, and our large fundraising events are having to be scaled down or take place in a different way.
“The worrying reality is that at a time of pandemic – when the compassionate end of life care we provide could hardly be more important – our funding has never been more precarious. We are not a NHS hospice. Less than 30% of our income comes from health budgets which is not nearly enough to pay for our specialist end of life care.
“Without adequate, sustainable and long-term funding, we will need to implement compulsory redundancies. This is clearly not something we want to have to do and we are seeking all alternatives to avoid that.”
To donate to Ashgate’s Urgent Appeal, please click here.
For more information about Ashgate Hospicecare, please visit www.ashgatehospicecare.org.uk or telephone 01246 568801.