Wales’ children’s hospices team up to call for government lifeline fund

Tŷ Gobaith in Groesynydd, Conwy

Submitted by Nathan Rowden

Wales’ two children’s hospices have joined forces to call for a new sustainable Lifeline Fund and funding parity with the rest of the UK.

Tŷ Hafan in Penarth, Vale of Glamorgan, and Tŷ Gobaith in Groesynydd, Conwy, are calling for the fund to help them ensure that all children with life-limiting conditions and their families can receive the support they desperately need.

Between them, the two hospices provide respite and palliative care for more than 400 families with children with life-limiting conditions, but currently receive less than 10% of their annual funding from the Welsh Government.

In comparison, children’s hospices in England receive 21% of their funding from the UK Government.

Meanwhile government funding for children’s hospices in Northern Ireland and Scotland runs at 25% and 50% respectively, making children’s hospices in Wales the poor relation of those elsewhere in the UK.

Representatives from Tŷ Hafan and Tŷ Gobaith are hoping a debate on the funding of children’s hospice provision in Wales, set to take place tomorrow in the Senedd, will help to inform the process of the establishment of a Lifeline Fund putting them on funding parity with their peers across the border.

The debate, ‘Children’s Hospices – a Lifeline Fund for Wales’, scheduled to take place on Wednesday, March 24, has been tabled by Mark Isherwood MS, the Chair of the Senedd Cross Party Group on Hospices and Palliative Care and Welsh Conservative MS for North Wales.

It is scheduled to be the last item of business before the fifth Welsh Parliament is dissolved, and will highlight the issues faced by some of Wales’ most vulnerable children and their families, before the parties start to campaign for re-election.

Andy Goldsmith, Ty Gobaith, Chief Executive

Maria Timon Samra, CEO of Tŷ Hafan, and Andy Goldsmith, CEO of Tŷ Gobaith, say that they hope the debate will lead to all political parties in Wales committing to the establishment of a sustainable and fair funding system.

Health Minister Vaughan Gething met with Maria Timon Samra and Andy Goldsmith earlier this year and in the written statement entitled ‘Update Palliative and End of Life Care’ published on March 5 committed to a review of all hospice funding in Wales to be completed early in the next Senedd term.

Maria Timon Samra said: “We are grateful for those from across the political spectrum who met with us to discuss the findings of our Family Voices report in 2020, and to learn more about the experiences of these children and their families.

“But merely articulating the problems facing some of Wales most vulnerable children and families is not going to make a real difference in these unfairly difficult lives.

“What we need now is a commitment to change, which is why we are calling for the establishment of a Lifeline Fund for children’s hospices in Wales within in the next Senedd term. As charities we are supported by the generosity of the Welsh public who recognise the plight of these families; we now need our government to back this up.”

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Andy Goldsmith said: “Our proposal is to move towards a sustainable model of funding that is more aligned with children’s hospice charities in other UK nations.

“This funding would give the children’s hospices in Wales confidence to sustain, plan and expand our services to better meet the need of all children with life-limiting conditions and their families across the country, in turn addressing Wales’ ambition to be a ‘compassionate country’.”

Mark Isherwood AM said: “Wales needs a Lifeline Fund for children’s hospices to fairly and sustainably provide the specialist care needed by children with life-limiting conditions and their families.

“It’s high time the Welsh Government brought public funding for Wales’ children’s hospices in line with that provided to children’s hospices in the other UK nations.”