Telford Journal Column

Hospice care is something we all value. It improves the quality of life of those with terminal conditions, helping them live as fully as they can to the end of life. A hospice looks after physical, emotional and spiritual needs and supports family members.

In Telford, we are lucky enough to have Severn Hospice, a charity doing a fantastic job, supported by the fundraising efforts and generosity of local people. The hospice contributes £7 million to the care of NHS patients, supporting 2,500 patients a year all of whom would otherwise have to access care within hospital.

The decision by Telford & Wrekin Clinical Commissioning Group (TWCCG) to strip Severn Hospice of £250,000 pa, forcing the hospice to cut beds in Telford is extraordinary. It is clear this will not save money. Any patient who cannot access specialist palliative care in a hospice will go to a hospital bed at the Princess Royal. In addition, this decision may impact on the willingness of people to donate to the Hospice.

TWCCG is saying, in effect, that because the Hospice is supported by generous charitable giving, the Hospice does not need so much funding from the CCG. Do those giving donations to Severn Hospice really want to help to plug a CCG funding gap, when the CCG has just splashed a rumoured £5m on the bureaucratic nightmare that is Future Fit?

Shropshire CCG are continuing to fund Severn Hospice, so patients in Shropshire are not affected. Once again, we have this shameful inequality in services between Telford and Shropshire that I have campaigned on over a number of years. They hear me in Parliament, but the CCG in Telford won’t listen.

The CCG must sit down with our Council and explain themselves. Our Council has had a seat at the table throughout the Future Fit process. They are a healthcare partner and have known about this decision for some time – they must state the action they have taken to protect our interests and persuade the CCG to think again.

These people are making vital decisions about our lives and our services. We need the Council to stand up for our area by working effectively with them.  All I see is noisy politicians shouting at Government. This doesn’t make the CCG accountable to anyone – that is a job for our local council and I will make sure they do it.