£250,000 cut to Telford hospice’s grant was 'necessary’, says health boss
The decision to cut funding to Severn Hospice by nearly a quarter was necessary in a “particularly challenging financial year”, a local NHS chief has said.
Telford and Wrekin Clinical Commissioning Group’s annual grant to Severn Hospice stood at £1.1million for three years, but goes down to £850,000 from 2019-20.
In response, the charity is to close two beds at its Telford in-patient centre at Apley Castle.
In a letter to Wellington Town Council, accountable officer David Evans said the 2016-2019 CCG grant was time-limited and discretionary, and the organisation now had to focus on services it was legally required to commission.
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Mr Evans was replying to a letter from the town council which, at a meeting on April 9, councillors agreed unanimously to express its “absolute regret” at the CCG’s decision.
Councillor Angela McClements proposed the move, adding that Severn Hospice had received “no increase in funding for the past 10 years”. Councillor Miles Hosken seconded.
Mr Evans’ reply, dated April 25, said: “The CCG has always held the work of the hospice in high regard and continues to do so.
“The decision to reduce the grant was not taken lightly and the CCG is committed to continuing to explore alternatives with the hospice.
“Our senior staff will be continuing to engage with the hospice about the new grant and to talk about potential schemes for collaboration in future.
“The CCG is facing a particularly challenging financial year and in a situation where NHS budgets are under pressure we must control spending.
“This means focusing on health service for which we are legally responsible for and giving careful consideration to the discretionary contributions we make towards services which the CCG does not have a statutory responsibility.
“Our priority as an NHS commissioner is to ensure that NHS-provided services are protected, especially when demand is increasing. Clearly, where we can, we will continue to make grant contributions to the voluntary sector and we are still doing this despite our financial position.”
Mr Evans pointed out that voluntary sector organisations, like Severn Hospice, are not NHS providers, and the CCG therefore is not required by law to fund them.
“These grants are time-limited, and availability is dependent on our overall financial position,” he added.
“The grant that had been made to the hospice was for a period of three years. That period expired at the end of March 2019.
“We have been having discussions with their chief executive since June 2018 about possible schemes which the CCG could commission to offset the loss from April 1, 2019, onwards.”
Wellington Town Council will discuss Mr Evans’ letter when it meets on Wednesday.