Hospice leaders across Scotland have warned of a “looming palliative care crisis” and are calling on the Scottish Government to provide a sustainable funding commitment.
Bosses have estimated a £12m increase in hospice wage bills is needed if they are to remain competitive with NHS and care service worker salaries.
It comes ahead of a round table discussion with MSPs in Scottish Parliament on Thursday, and a ministerial discussion regarding funding on March 14.
Scottish hospice care facilities support around 22,000 patients a year, provide essential public services that keep people out of hospital, and support them to stay at home.
Leaders fear that without a commitment from the Government to provide a framework for sustainable funding, the public – who are also dealing with the rising cost of living – will face heavier pressures.
”The predicted circa £12m increase in hospices’ wage bill is a small drop compared to the £1bn investment Scottish Government is planning to provide for NHS staff pay uplifts over two years,” said Jacki Smart, CEO of ACCORD Hospice and chair of the Scottish Hospice Leadership Group.
”We are seeking support in the short term to remain competitive with the salary uplifts applied to NHS pay scales.
“In the long-term, we want to work together with the Scottish Government to allow Hospices to develop services in response to the changing needs of the people we serve.”
Ms Smart said that a national partnership between hospices and the Scottish Government allow facilities to continue providing necessary palliative care effectively, as well as provide equity of access to those in need across the country.
She added: ”If hospices weren’t here, the NHS would be facing paying 100% of the costs of caring for those patients.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We are committed to ensuring that everyone who needs it can access seamless, timely and high‑quality palliative care.
“The First Minister has committed to ensuring that specific conversations take place about the pressures that hospices are facing, and that officials and ministers liaise with the sector to see what more support we might be able to provide.
“The Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care and the Minister for Public Health, Women’s Health and Sport, are scheduled to meet with representatives for the sector on March 14.”