Brexit and NHS funding cuts blamed for Bury children's hospice closure

Luen Thompson
Image caption Brexit has affected how much people can afford to give to charity, according to Luen Thompson

A children's hospice that opened in January plans to close because NHS funding and donations have failed to meet running costs, says a charity.

Its chief executive, Luen Thompson, said she could not secure enough money from the NHS and the public were giving less because of fears over Brexit.

The charity said alternative care arrangements would be made for children being treated at Grace's Place in Bury.

The BBC has approached Bury Clinical Commissioning Group for comment.

Ms Thompson said NHS funding was covering only a small fraction of the annual £1.2m running costs the Forget Me Not charity needed to run the hospice and it had been able to operate as few as three days a week.

Children's hospices receive an average of 21% of their funding from the NHS, down from 27% five years ago, according to charities that run them.

'Stark choice'

Ms Thompson said the charity could not raise enough money from shops or fundraising, meaning it was faced with a "stark financial choice" to close Grace's Place or continue losing money, which would risk the work of its other hospice in Huddersfield, Yorkshire.

Image caption Charities say children's hospices, like Grace's Place in Bury, receive an average of 21% of their running costs from the NHS

"We've had Brexit and all the uncertainty for people and what money they have in their own pockets," she said.

"Most charities are not getting the levels of donations they previously had and that is about people's level of confidence in how they spend their money."

The hospice had provided care for 67 families since it opened.

Ms Thompson added Forget Me Not has entered into a consultation with staff and will work with families to devise care plans.

David Ireland, chief executive of Francis House Children's House in Didsbury, said fundraising had been hit by austerity and Brexit, both of which "affected people's ability to give big sums of money, particularly businesses".

Only 10% of Francis House's £4.2m annual running costs came from the NHS, with the rest from donations and fundraising, he said.

Mr Ireland added that Francis House had offered care to any patients being treated at Grace's Place.

An Adjournment Debate on children's palliative care was scheduled to take place in the House of Commons on Monday.

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