Throughout the pandemic, the end-of-life and palliative care sector has stepped up to support the NHS with vital care as the number of occupied beds in ICUs across the country increased dramatically. As people stayed home in fear of exposure to the virus, the number of excess deaths at home also increased. Hospice nurses and physicians were there to provide critical support, from supporting people at the end of life in their own homes with pain relief and symptom management, to providing grief and emotional support to women. families and loved ones.
We have seen the palliative care sector playing a vital role in the country’s response alongside the NHS, a partnership that we hope will continue in the future.
However, when the government announced that it would give NHS workers in England a 3% pay increase, it was clear that those in Westminster had forgotten about hospices.
While we are grateful for the additional support provided by the government at the height of the pandemic, with funding given to the sector to purchase essential capacity for the NHS, that money has already been depleted, and hospices across the country are now relying on it. in charitable donations to keep going. These donations are used to pay the salaries of clinical and front-line staff who provide much-needed care at the end of life. People are often surprised to learn that such staff are not employed by the NHS.
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We believe that all end-of-life staff deserve to be appropriately rewarded for their hard work, dedication, and skill.
And this is no different for nurses, healthcare assistants, and other brilliant staff in the charity-funded hospice industry.
Charitable-funded hospices in England now face a major struggle to match the NHS pay rise as they compete to hire and retain the same staff. Right now this salary top-up, which could reach £ 25 million a year, will need to be covered by selling second-hand clothes and generous people running marathons and selling cakes. This would not happen in maternity services when people are brought into the world, so why should it happen when people die? We do not think that is acceptable.
The government speaks in its reforms of an integrated health and care system. To achieve this, it is vital that emerging ICSs and the workforce plans they will develop take a whole system approach.
When it comes to paying, that means providing the funding for hospices and other non-NHS providers to allow them to match the three percent increase.
More than a year since the onset of covid, now is the perfect opportunity to reflect on the unique contribution of palliative care and its key role as part of the broader health and social care system to respond and adapt to the challenges that arise. looming. That means treating the palliative care sector as an equal in the health and care system, recognizing the vital role it plays and rewarding its staff appropriately.
By working together, we can provide integrated health services, particularly at the community level, to ensure that no one misses vital end-of-life care.