• Boris Johnson announces £25m funding increase for hospices, to be paid for with existing NHS budgets
  • Comes amid mounting concerns over financial sustainability of independent hospice care sector
  • Chair of NHS Clinical Commissioners says decision may mean CCGs “have to make other difficult decisions”

The £25m promised by Boris Johnson to hospices and palliative care services will come from existing NHS budgets and may require efficiencies in other areas, HSJ has been told.

The prime minister announced the in-year funding increase for hospices last night, with the expectation it will be “sustained at appropriate levels through mainstream NHS funding” in future years. The move comes amid mounting concerns over the financial sustainability of the charitable hospice sector.

Hospices collectively receive around £350m to £400m from clinical commissioning groups each year. They then raise £1bn from charitable fundraising. However, the levels of NHS funding are determined locally, so there can be significant variation. The government added it expects CCGs to identify any gaps in local provision and put in place service development plans to address them.

Graham Jackson, chair of NHS Clinical Commissioners, said high quality end of life care is clinically appropriate and a “good use of scarce resources”, but said ringfencing CCG funding in this way “may mean they have to make other difficult decisions”. He added that commissioners “already identify gaps in the health needs of their populations and take action to make sure they address them”.

Tracey Bleakley, chief executive of Hospice UK, said: “While this funding boost is welcome and timely, many charitable hospices are facing grave, financial challenges in the long-term and need to raise over £1bn a year in a very tough fundraising climate. As demand grows and costs increase, the need for funding rises every year. The support pledged today is an important first step to help protect the vital care provided by charitable hospices for people with life-limiting conditions and their families.”

Mr Johnson said: “I am making sure that today our hospices and palliative care services are given a £25m boost to alleviate the everyday pressures faced on the frontline, helping to ensure they have the resources they need, when they need them.”

In June, NHS England announced plans to raise the children’s hospice grant to £25m by 2023-24, from £12m in 2019-20.

Health secretary Matt Hancock welcomed the move, while NHS England did not wish to comment separately.