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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 February 2007, 06:42 GMT
Hospices warning of service cuts
Chief executive of Hospice of the Valleys, Andy Richards
Andy Richards from Hospice of the Valleys wants 'proper' funding
Hospices have warned they may have to turn away terminally ill patients in Wales because of a funding crisis.

The Hospice of the Valleys in Tredegar, Blaenau Gwent which provides palliative care said it would have to cut services unless it was "properly funded".

Hope Hospice serving north and mid Wales also said it faced a shortfall.

But Health Minister, Dr Brian Gibbons, has promised to provide 2m core funding annually for the 12 charitable hospices in Wales.

"Hospice of the Valleys saves our local NHS...around 150, 000 a year," its chief executive, Andy Richards, told BBC Wales' Week In Week Out programme.

"Now if you extrapolate that to all the hospices in Wales, that adds up to millions of pounds.

I think it is a disgrace to be honest with you
Freda Millard

"The NHS and the assembly needs to wake up to that and say that this is a service that needs to be properly funded, because we can't carry on."

Mr Richards added the charitable hospice could not afford maternity cover for its palliative care consultant.

The hospice has identified 300 other terminally ill people in Blaenau Gwent with diseases other than cancer who they cannot help through lack of funds.

Freda Millard, from Ebbw Vale, was helped by the hospice to care for her husband Stuart at home until he died of lung cancer.

'Failing'

"They provide such an essential service to a community to people, in a very vulnerable position, to think that they have got to rely on just the charity of others and not be funded from the National Health Service.

"I think it is a disgrace to be honest with you," Ms Millard added.

Another hospice which helps families across mid and north Wales, is warning that outreach services for terminally ill children will have to be cut because of a funding shortfall of 128,000 a year.

David Featherstone, chief executive of Hope House in Oswestry said: "We can only work so hard at fundraising...and unless we can secure core-funding to make sure that we can go on delivering this service.

"We think morally that the Welsh Assembly Government should look very carefully at providing the money to do that.

Woman talking to patient in wheelchair
Hospices in Wales are concerned about long-term funding

"Everybody has budgetary commitments, but they are failing in their duty to terminally ill children in Wales."

In December, the charity Help the Hospices said the Welsh assembly government funding commitments were not enough to solve long-term financial issues.

It said that the 12 charitable hospices in Wales received only 15% state funding on average, compared with 40% in Scotland

In England, the government has said it hoped to provide half hospices' core funding by 2008.

In a statement Dr Gibbons told Week In Week Out that local health boards needed to develop sustainable funding for palliative care.

But his department for the first time, will provide 2m in core funding each year.

"We recognise that those hospices providing high quality palliative care in order to help meet identified patient need will benefit from the security of long term sustainable funding arrangements," the statement said.

Week In Week Out, BBC One Wales, Tuesday, 2235 GMT




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