Hospice charity warns of trebling energy bills as government urged to intervene

14 Mar 2023 News


A London-based hospice has forecast that its energy cost will increase by almost £300,000 a year due to inflationary pressures. 

North London Hospice told Civil Society Media that it faces an energy bill of £433,000 in 2023-24, based on its predicted energy cost.

This compares to its current annual energy costs of around £140,000, said the charity, whose overall expenditure was £13.5m last year according to its accounts.

Declan Carroll, chief executive at North London Hospice said: “Like everyone, we at North London Hospice are facing increased energy bills. We aim to provide the best of life, at the end of life so for us, cutting back on heating and electricity simply isn’t an option. 

“We have a plan in place to ensure we can continue to deliver the best of care for our patients, but these are challenging times.”

Earlier this month, a briefing sent by Hospice UK to MPs said that many hospices are “struggling to pay the rising costs of energy, food and staff and worry about the future of their services”. 

It called on chancellor Jeremy Hunt to include support for hospices in tomorrow’s spring budget to ensure they can continue to deliver their “essential services and help relived pressures on the NHS”. 

Hospices face ‘astronomical bills’

In the briefing, Hospice UK said that hospices have seen their energy costs skyrocket but cannot reduce their energy consumption as they need to keep their medical machines running and inpatient units warm for patients. 

It said: “Under the new Energy Bills Discount Scheme, hospices will be eligible for the same level of reduced support as a pub or restaurant and even less support than a zoo or museum. This is despite hospices being unable to pass on costs to customers and relying on communities to fundraise for their services. 

“NHS services will have their energy bills paid for by the government but hospices, which deliver essential end-of-life care, will be expected to raise money to pay astronomical bills.”

The combined impact of soaring energy and food prices, as well as rising staff costs required to meet NHS pay rises, means that the hospice sector is now facing an additional £100m per year. 

‘Critical’ to society

According to the briefing, 71% of hospice expenditure is spent on staff, while most of their income comes from fundraising through initiatives including bake sales and marathons. 

“Hospices are determined to pay their brilliant staff a fair wage but as NHS salaries rightly increase, it will become a major challenge for hospices to find the funding to keep pace,” it said.

“Rising costs are coming at a time when local communities, who usually give so generously, will be struggling themselves. This means the cost of living crisis is squeezing donations whilst hospices’ own costs spiral.”

The briefing added that “hospices are a critical part of the health and care system”, providing care and support to 300,000 people a year in the UK. 

“The need for the sector’s services is greater than ever before. Missed appointments and screenings during the pandemic mean that more and more people are being referred to hospice care with more complex symptoms. With the NHS under extreme pressure, now is the time to strengthen rather than risk hospice services.”

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