North Derbyshire Doctors fundraise to support struggling Ashgate Hospicecare

Staff from Staffa Health GP practice in Stonebroom, Derbyshire are embarking on a year long fundraising drive for cash strapped Ashgate Hospicecare.

Staff have organised a Christmas draw where the prizes are two hampers and several wine boxes, a cycling challenge from Ashgate to Chapel-en-le-Frith and entry into the Chesterfield 10K.

This follows news that the charity is facing an uncertain future after the Coronavirus pandemic left them with a shortfall of at least £2.4 million in lost revenue.

Ruth Cooper, GP at Staffa Health, said: “The decision to fundraise for Ashgate Hospicecare was an easy one. I have been a GP in North Derbyshire for 28 years and I have seen first-hand just how much Ashgate has grown to become an integral part of the healthcare system.

“The team at Ashgate work collaboratively with other healthcare professionals such as GPs, to ensure that patients and their families receive the very best end-of-life care. They have supported me, and the team I work with, to ensure that a patient’s wishes are respected at the end of their life.”

Ashgate Hospicecare, which provides specialist end-of-life care to patients with complex palliative care needs across North Derbyshire, are waiting for a decision from NHS Derby and Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) about whether they will commit to the additional funding needed to secure their existing services.

“It would be detrimental to the community in North Derbyshire if Ashgate were forced to reduce or withdraw their services,” said Ruth. “Not only would it be a huge blow to the thousands of families who use the services, but the hundreds of healthcare professionals who rely on their expertise.

“One thing is certain, I can’t imagine being a GP without the support the Ashgate team offer, particularly during these exceptional times when their skills are needed more than ever.”

If the charity does not receive the additional funding from the CCG for the next financial year, then they will be forced to make compulsory redundancies and reduce their hospice services. This follows a series of voluntary redundancies in October.

As Ashgate Hospicecare face an uncertain future, they are appealing to the generosity of their local community and asking them to donate to their Winter Crisis Appeal.

Barbara-Anne Walker, Chief Executive at Ashgate Hospicecare, says: “We are overwhelmed by the support of everyone at Staffa Health, and all those in the community who choose to support the hospice.

“It is sad that end-of-life care depends on fundraised income and that the costs are not covered by local health budgets. The Coronavirus pandemic has exposed the fragility of how end of life care is funded in the UK.

“In fact, we must raise 72% of the funds we need to provide end of life care for desperately ill patients across North Derbyshire every year.

“For that, we urgently need our community’s help – and this year more than ever. That’s why we are putting our supporters and the community at the heart of our Winter Crisis Appeal – because without them we wouldn’t be able to provide our care.

“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.

“The amount Ashgate receives from local health budgets has not increased since 2014, a decline in real terms.

“We are now waiting for the CCG who have promised to confirm whether they intend to commit to the additional funding for the next financial year. Without it, we will have no choice but to start making compulsory redundancies in the new year.”

Central to the campaign is an emotional video featuring the loved ones of those who have been cared for by Ashgate Hospicecare.

Incredible hospice care

One of those featured in the video is 65-year-old Lynne Earland from Clay Cross in Derbyshire, she describes the care her lifelong friend received at Ashgate as “incredible.”

Lynne said: “Me and Sue had been friends since our days at school; in fact, she was more than just a friend, she was like the sister I never had.

“When Sue was admitted to Ashgate she had her own private room, and she was able to have as many visitors as she wanted. That included her closest friends and family, her young nieces and nephews and even her beloved dog.

“Being able to have those she loved around her provided her with real comfort. I knew that Sue didn’t have long left, so I visited her every day as I wanted to make the most of the time we had. One day it had all got a bit too much for me to bare and one of the ward nurses came over to comfort me, I was struck by the kindness of all who worked there.

“The care Sue received was absolutely fantastic and I can’t thank them enough. It might have taken me until now to appreciate the real importance of hospice care, not just for the patient, but for their family and friends too. That’s why I’m going to support Ashgate in whatever ways I can.”

Protecting the future of Ashgate Hospicecare

Barbara-Anne continues: “We know that end of life care shouldn’t rely on fundraised income but unfortunately that is where we find ourselves today. Please give what you can to protect our future and ensure the people of North Derbyshire receive our compassionate, specialist, end of life care for many years to come.”

By supporting the appeal, the local community will be able to help Ashgate in a number of ways:

  • £10 could pay towards additional housekeeping to prevent the spread of infection
  • £15 could pay towards compassionate support to comfort patients at the end of their life.
  • £25 could pay towards for 24 hours of specialist care for our most vulnerable patients.

To support Ashgate Hospicecare’s Winter Crisis Appeal, click here or phone 01246 567250.

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