PPE distribution across Sue Ryder
At the start of the coronavirus pandemic, demand for supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) soared. This led multiple colleagues across Sue Ryder to work together and find a solution that ensures the right protection is always available for colleagues on the frontline and enabling them to focus on providing the best care possible for our service users.
In that time, 2,000 boxes of PPE have been delivered to our hospices, palliative care hubs and neurological care centres nationwide, totalling an amazing 1,804,951 units which include:
899,950 units of fluid-resistant surgical masks have been sent to our healthcare teams, equalling the length of 1,500 football pitches or 28,000 giraffes
760,750 units of aprons, equivalent to the weight of two male killer whales or 50 male lions!
We're so proud of our team for working together to keep our patients and staff safe 💙
The Palliative Care Funding Crisis
The current situation
Palliative care is the care and support given to people with life-limiting conditions like cancer, heart failure and lung disease. Sue Ryder is one of the country’s leading specialist palliative care providers, providing expert and compassionate care to people at the end of their lives.
Currently, less than 50% of all people dying in England receive palliative care, yet up to 90% may have palliative care needs.
What’s more, demand is projected to increase from 245,000 patients in the coming year to 379,000 by 2030/31. This is due to a number of factors such as increased mortality rates and a growing desire by patients to die at home rather than in hospital.
Such a significant increase in demand for these services is leading to a crisis in the charitable care sector and it does not even address the number of people who need palliative care but don’t receive it.
New research findings
Sue Ryder has recently commissioned independent research to examine the costs required to meet the demand for palliative care services over the next ten years. It found that the cost of hospice provision of palliative care is estimated to be £947 million per year between now and 2030.
Given the future increase in demand over the next decade, if Government funding continues in line with its current model of covering 37% of these costs, hospices will be required to raise £597 million each year through fundraising. This is simply unrealistic, and the hospice sector cannot be balanced on this fragile basis.
This research has highlighted the stark reality of the danger facing the independent hospice sector. If high-quality patient outcomes are to be preserved and the hospice sector is to continue to be able to provide these essential services, it is clear that the Government needs to commit now to an increase in funding to ensure its future sustainability.
What needs to change
Despite the Health Secretary affirming in Parliament that the Government is committed to investing in ‘high quality palliative care’, no sustainable funding has, as yet, been forthcoming.
Without a Government commitment to significantly increase levels of statutory funding to cover clinical costs for palliative care services, there is a genuine and serious risk of services being withdrawn and patients and their families losing out on the specialist, holistic support that hospices offer.
The collapse of the independent hospice sector would be disastrous, with the NHS forced to take on the extra demand. The COVID-19 pandemic has already created a massive backlog in hospital activity. To further increase reliance on NHS services would inevitably lead to poorer patient outcomes for those at the end of their lives.
“It is unfathomable that such a critical part of our healthcare system is hanging by a thread.”
Heidi Travis, CEO, Sue Ryder
A commitment to fund 70% of total palliative care costs is the minimum required to ensure the sustainability of the hospice sector and these vital services in the medium term. This would cost the Government an additional £313m per year, or a total of £663 million per year.
The alternative is likely to be hospice closures, resulting in the overstretched NHS having to provide end-of-life care services at an additional cost of £484 million each year for the Government, or a total of £834 million.
While Sue Ryder recognises the difficulties facing the public finances, it is essential that the Government takes this important step and sets the independent hospice sector on a positive and sustainable path for the future, allowing it to support all those who need it.
The additional funding the hospice sector is asking for equates to just 0.5% of the NHS budget and that equates to just £500 per death.
All statistics in this document are taken from the report ‘Modelling demand and costs for palliative care services in England’, conducted by London Economics and commissioned by Sue Ryder.
Bereavement leave for all
Just like sick leave, maternity and paternity leave, Sue Ryder believes that bereavement leave should be a basic right at work.
Bereavement is a painful but inevitable experience. It can be a life-altering time that demands rest and space, so you can start recovering.
But in the UK, bereavement leave is not treated the same as sick leave or maternity and paternity leave: there is no law to ensure everyone can have time off work to grieve.
Many employers allow some form of bereavement leave, but it’s entirely at their discretion. That leaves thousands of people unable to take a single day off, without fearing what it would mean for their job.
Bereavement is a normal part of life – just like sickness or having a child – and it deserves the same statutory protection. If you agree all workers should have the right to bereavement leave, add your name to the campaign now.