North East hospice announces closure of long-term care unit after £755,000 shortfall
A North East hospice has announced it has closed one of its care units as a result of the cost of living crisis and increased costs.
Alice House Hospice (AHH) in Hartlepool has announced it has closed its long-term care unit amid a £755,000 shortfall in its budget.
This comes after the group met with hospice chiefs in Parliament last month to discuss the lack of funding made available to the sector.
The unit is made up of eight private rooms for people requiring 24-hour end-of-life care.
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Speaking on the closure, an AHH spokesperson said: "We have strived, with the support of staff, volunteers and stakeholders, throughout these difficult times to reduce spending and run things as tightly as possible, without affecting the high-quality of our services, which remain our top priority.
"We have taken the difficult decision of closing the Long-Term Care Unit, until a solution is found.
"This is not an outcome we ever wanted and we have explored all known avenues to try and save this service.
"We understand the anxiety and disappointment that this will cause for patients and their families, as well as our own staff, all of whom will be fully supported and updated in every way that we can.
"We are exploring ways of re-purposing this space in a way that both supports our community and is financially sustainable.
"The closure of the Long-Term Unit is essential to safeguard the future of the Hospice and we would like to assure people that our core services, including the Inpatient Unit, will remain unaffected.”
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The care provider have said increased costs have been brought on by a rise in minimum wage, significant increases to utility bills, supplier and maintenance fees, and clinical consumables.
It said a reduction in donations, hospice lottery players and general fundraising support, to the forecast value of £295,000 is also "seriously affecting" their financial situation.
They said they are working to reduce the deficit to manageable levels following emergency meetings.
As a result, they said they have reviewed non-core services which are operating at a loss.
They have said beds on the Long-Term Care Unit are operating at a loss of £275,000 per year, which they can no longer support.
"Previously, this shortfall has been funded from our own financial reserves, which we no longer have," the Hospice added.
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AHH provides care and support to those affected by life-limiting illnesses or the death of a loved one in Hartlepool, Tees Valley and East Durham.
Meanwhile, they have said it costs over £3.5m to fund these services for one year.
Adding to this, the hospice said they receive less than 21 per cent of this in Government funding, leaving a shortfall of just under £8,000 to be raised every single day.