Hospiscare is warning of redundancies in its Hospiscare at Home service as a funding shortfall forces the charity to cut costs.

From this autumn a ‘rapid response’ care service will be introduced for patients being cared for in their own homes. The charity said the change won’t affect other outpatient and inpatient services.

Hospiscare is currently facing a £2.5million deficit because of insufficient funding and rising costs. The charity receives just 15 per cent of its funding from the Devon Integrated Care Board (ICB), the local NHS body with responsibility for funding healthcare services in Devon, compared to a national average of 27 per cent.

Last November the charity warned that it would have to cut services if the funding was not increased.

Hospiscare has already reduced the number of beds at its ward in Exeter and made savings in admin costs. It is now having to change part of its at-home care for patients during the last days of their lives.

Andrew Randall, CEO at Hospiscare, said: “We’re an independent local charity that provides specialist palliative care for over 2,000 patients a year in Exeter, central and east Devon. Our care is rated as outstanding by the Care Quality Commission and is provided to patients on our ward, in community hubs and in patients’ own homes.

“Acute funding challenges and inequitable statutory funding mean we must reduce our costs while still maintaining vital care and support for local people facing terminal illnesses.

“This June, we consulted with our clinical teams on a proposed new rapid response care service to replace our beloved Hospiscare at Home service. It is with deep regret that I say this means that some highly valued and skilled colleagues are sadly at risk of redundancy.”

Clinical director Ann Rhys said: “Patient care is central to everything we do. Despite the challenges facing us we’ll do everything in our power to always give the very best care.

“Potentially making brilliant colleagues redundant is absolutely the last thing I want to do, and we will do everything we can to redeploy our staff where possible. But unfortunately we’re in the position where we must make difficult decisions to safeguard the long-term future of the hospice.

“We will be writing to our patients, but I really want to reassure our current Hospiscare at Home patients that this decision won’t come into effect until autumn and won’t affect their care. Our specialist community team and other outpatient and inpatient services will continue as normal.”

Addressing the on-going inequity in the hospice’s funding, Chair of Trustees, Brian Aird, said:

“Despite multiple conversations over two years with the Devon Integrated Care Board, gross inequities in the statutory funding we receive have not been addressed and significant increases in costs have had a stark impact on the hospice’s finances.

“Thanks to the incredible support of thousands of generous people across our community who donate, play our lottery, use our charity shops or remember us in their will, Hospiscare raises over 80 per cent of the money we need every year. But we need more long-term help. We are not asking Devon ICB to fully fund our hospice – we just urgently need them to commit to giving us fair government funding so we can continue to provide outstanding care to local people at the end of their lives.”

For more information about the issues mentioned here, or to find out how to support the hospice, visit www.hospiscare.co.uk/fair.