An Aberdeen-based executive with charity Sue Ryder has urged politicians from all parties to address the “terrible” state of hospice provision across Britain.
Pamela Mackenzie, executive director of the organisation – which is struggling to stay afloat in the midst of the Covid-19 outbreak – spoke about the “very real” possibility that Sue Ryder might be forced to close its seven hospice centres throughout the UK.
They provide vital support to patients with terminal illnesses and their families, but the charity needs to find £12 million in the next three months to address its “precarious” financial situation.
Ms Mackenzie has encouraged the public to do what they can, but she also insists it is time to investigate the whole issue of palliative and hospice care and how it is funded.
She told the Press and Journal: “We have to tackle this head-on, because we only receive 30% of funding from the government, yet we and other groups are trying to help thousands of patients and their families and we are a crucial partner of the NHS, especially at this time, when it is under such demands.
“We know that £12 million is a lot of money, but the hospices are relieving pressure on the NHS.
“They are looking after people who are dying, and it is time for a wake-up call.
“All our charity shops are closed for the foreseeable future and while we fully understand why that has happened, it means there are no funds coming in.
“If we are not there to care for these people who are at the end of their lives, that will place even more responsibility on the NHS.
“And, if Sue Ryder doesn’t have the funding to continue operating, it will also have a serious impact on our neurological centres, including Dee View Court in Aberdeen.”
Ms Mackenzie added: “We know this is a very difficult time for everybody and that we are not the only charity which is struggling at the moment.
“Big and small organisations alike are feeling the strain and yet we are providing help to so many people.
“Whatever happens, we need to talk about this whole issue and change the terrible way that hospice care is funded. This has to be looked at properly in the months ahead.”