Closure of Long-Term Care Unit, Alice House Hospice

Press Statement from Sandra Britten and Nicola Haggan, Co-Chief Executive Officers

“Alice House Hospice continues to struggle under the weight of the cost of living crisis and increased operating costs.

We have strived, with the support of staff, volunteers and stakeholders, throughout these difficult times to reduce spending and run things as tightly as possible, without affecting the high-quality of our services, which remain our top priority.

In budget meetings, a shortfall of £755,000 for the year ahead was identified. Some of the factors impacting on this figure include the rise in minimum wage, significant increases in the cost of utility bills, supplier and maintenance fees and clinical consumables. This has resulted in a combined additional spend of over £380,000 across the 2023-24 financial year.

A reduction in donations, Hospice lottery players and general fundraising support, to the forecast value of £295,000 is also seriously affecting our financial situation.

Following emergency planning meetings, we are working to reduce this deficit to a level that is manageable, in order to secure the future of the Hospice.

We have therefore had to review any non-core services that are operating at a financial loss. 

The Continuing Healthcare beds on the Long-Term Care Unit are operating at a loss of £275,000 per year, which we can no longer sustain. These beds – which provide a vital service – are partially funded.  Previously, this shortfall has been funded from our own financial reserves, which we no longer have. 

The purpose of the Long-Term Care Unit is to provide twenty-four hour nursing care to palliative patients with Continuing Healthcare (CHC) in their last year of life. The Unit consists of eight private rooms with en-suite facilities.

Care is delivered by our specialist team, who manage complex conditions and high dependency needs, allowing a holistic approach to each individual’s care plan, enabling their needs and wishes to be considered. 

Data shows that the majority of these patients are managed within the Hospice environment without the requirement for either GP or hospital input, thereby significantly reducing the pressures on the NHS.   

Work has been ongoing to try and fund these beds at a sustainable level, but unfortunately these negotiations have not resulted in any further funding, as the NHS are also subject to the current and challenging economic climate.

Subsequently, we have taken the difficult decision of closing the Long-Term Care Unit, until a solution is found. This is not an outcome we ever wanted and we have explored all known avenues to try and save this service.

We understand the anxiety and disappointment that this will cause for patients and their families, as well as our own staff, all of whom will be fully supported and updated in every way that we can.

We are exploring ways of re-purposing this space in a way that both supports our community and is financially sustainable.  

This is disappointing news to share and we would like to take this opportunity once again to thank all of our supporters who continue to make Hospice care available to local families.

The closure of the Long-Term Unit is essential to safeguard the future of the Hospice and we would like to assure people that our core services, including the Inpatient Unit, will remain unaffected.”

Alice House Hospice provides care and support to people affected by life limiting illness or the death of a loved one in Hartlepool, Tees Valley and East Durham. 

It costs over £3.5m to fund these services for one year. The Hospice receives just less than 21% of this in Government funding, leaving a shortfall of just under £8,000 to be raised every single day.

For press queries about this or other news on the Alice House Hospice website please contact a member of our Communications Team on 01429 855555.

  • Registered charity No. 510824
  • Company No. 1525658
  • © Alice House Hospice 2024

Hartlepool Hospice Ltd (known locally as Alice House Hospice and formerly Hartlepool & District Hospice)
Registered office: Alice House, Wells Avenue, Hartlepool, TS24 9DA.