CUMBRIAN hospices have issued a desperate call for the government to respond to the impact of the energy bills crisis.

The sharply-rising energy costs will greatly affect end-of-life care, according to the leaders of these hospices and others in the north.

Hospices in the region are predicting £1million of additional energy costs at a time when they are already under pressure from salary inflation and the rising costs of running vehicles.

The fear that donations won’t be enough is causing real concern.

The 12 hospice charities in Cumbria and the northeast set up a formal collaborative in 2017 to improve the provision of palliative and end-of-life care across the region.

However, a pressing aim of the collective is to identify whether they can achieve savings by joining together to wield greater purchasing power.

Despite their efforts, they are finding that there are 'no deals to be had' for rising energy costs in the current climate.

The hospices are therefore calling on the government to step in and help to sustain these services.

'Society is judged by the way it treats its most vulnerable'

Paul Marriott, chief executive of St Cuthbert’s Hospice and chair of the hospices Northeast collaborative, said: “Our communities are extremely generous to the hospices in their local area, helping us to raise the money we need every year to ensure our care is free to all who need it, but the people and companies that support us are also facing the same financial pressures.

“That’s why we need Government to step in.

“Fundraising has always been vital and whilst we can’t praise enough the individuals who go the extra mile to take on challenges and hold events for us, we have found that this income has been falling.

“Simply because those running marathons and skydiving are finding it hard to ask for sponsorship as we all struggle with the rising costs.

“It’s certainly a bleak outlook for us all in the hospice care sector.

“We recognise that the current crisis is affecting individuals, commercial organisations, public sector bodies and charities alike.

“Society is judged by the way it treats its most vulnerable, and people at the end of life are at their most vulnerable.

“They are, surely, a special case for additional support”.

Most people approaching the end of life choose to die at home.

However, fears about the costs of staying warm and running vital medical equipment may see people either continuing to receive care at home but with the added stress of worrying about their energy bills or, alternatively, not having a choice about where they die, the hospices added.

The 12 hospices calling for support include Eden Valley Hospice & Jigsaw Cumbria Children’s Hospice, Hospice at Home Carlisle & North Lakeland, and Hospice at Home West Cumbria.

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