BURY Hospice is facing a funding crisis — sparking campaigners to launch a bid to “save” it.
The hospice, newly built in Rochdale Old Road, is falling behind the £3 million a year needed to keep it running, which could leave it dire straits.
Leaders of Bury’s NHS Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) say it will be unlikely that they will able to provide extra funding to plug the gap, because of an estimated £60 million shortfall the NHS in Bury faces over the next three years.
Michael Garrity, chairman of the hospice, said: “The trustees and senior managers at Bury Hospice are fully aware that Bury CCG are underfunded by a significant amount and have difficulty in meeting the extra expense required by the new hospice.
“Like other hospices, we are not fully reliant on NHS money and we obtain significant support from the people of Bury.
“This needs to continue and, where possible, be enhanced — but we are aware of the local financial situation that many people in Bury face and we are grateful for their continued support in these difficult times.
“Like any other charity, the trustees have a duty to ensure that our income matches our expenditure and at times this may require actions to ensure this is achieved.”
It is understood that the NHS provides the hospice with about £300,000 a year, which amounts to about 10 per cent of their overall expenditure.
The hospice relies on donations and fundraising events for the rest of their funding.
The new £5 million hospice moved form its previous base in Dumers Lane, Radcliffe, to Bury in March 2013, after a three-year funding campaign.
Dr Kiran Patel, chairman of Bury CCG, said the group will listen to a proposal from the hospice for further funding at their next board meeting, but that they will be constrained by their own funding shortfall.
It is claimed that Bury is the most underfunded CCG in the north of England, which was recognised in NHS England’s new “target allocation” funding formula, which calculates it should be receiving around 10 per cent — equating to £20 million — per year more.
NHS England does not plan to give Bury its target allocation immediately, and instead is proposing a small increase in its allocation over the coming years, leading to a £60 million shortfall by the end of March 2016.
Dr Patel said: “Recognising the vital work that the hospice does for the patients of Bury, we have asked the hospice to provide the CCG with a proposal for further funding in the hospice, which we would consider at our next board meeting.
“However, it must be recognised that our resources are fully committed and our ability to fund fully any additional proposals are limited due to us being the most underfunded CCG in the north of England.”
A ‘Save Our Hospice’ campaign is being launched by councillor James Frith, Labour’s candidate for Bury North at the 2015 general election, in Bury town centre on Saturday.
He said: “We are being let down and we need to fight back — so I am starting a campaign for us to save the hospice.
“Our priority has to be keeping the hospice to ensure the very best care for the terminally ill and most frail in Bury.
“We’ve all donated, fundraised or supported the hospice or know someone who has. It’s one of our most cherished resources.”
- A new children’s hospice, called Grace’s Place, is set to be opened in the autumn on the site of the old base in Dumers Lane.
Hospice bosses say that the opening of Grace’s Place will not be affected by the funding issues.