We have had health and social care devolution in Greater Manchester since 2016 – that means that there is now more say at a regional level about how health budgets should be spent. The changes are intended to give local people more say in how their care is provided too.
St Ann’s Hospice is one of seven adult hospices in Greater Manchester. We are charities and not part of the NHS in the same way the hospitals are, but we work collaboratively as part of the wider health and care system and the NHS contributes towards some of our care costs. On average hospices receive a third of their income from the NHS – we rely on the generosity of the public to keep us going.
We are all going to die. And we all want the best possible care for ourselves and for the people that we love at the end of their lives. There has been a big change this year which means that the importance of good end-of-life and palliative care has been recognised by the government in the way it never was before. The Health and Care Act means that for the first time it is now a legal requirement to provide palliative care in England where local people need it. That is intended to end a postcode lottery where there may be better end-of-life care in some areas more than others. It also means that the vital role of hospices for people at the end of their lives can’t be ignored or forgotten about.
An important part of my job is to make sure that we are shouting from the rooftops about the excellent care provided by St Ann’s and the other hospices across Greater Manchester, united and with one voice.
In October I was delighted to welcome Sir Richard Leese, who is chair of the Greater Manchester Integrated Care Board, and Mark Fisher, Chief Executive of Greater Manchester Integrated Care, to our hospice in Heald Green to talk about the ambitious plans we have to help transform end-of-life care for residents, including by building a much-needed new hospice for the people of Greater Manchester next door to our existing hospice in Heald Green.
We also talked about how we are collaborating with the health and care system in Greater Manchester more than ever before. We all know that the pandemic brought huge challenges and devastation to our doors, but I also saw first-hand everyone in health and care working together as hard as possible to get people in the right place at the right time to receive the right care. Through a mutual aid philosophy we worked closely with our colleagues across all the hospices in Greater Manchester, in hospitals and care homes to go above and beyond to make this happen. At our inpatient units in Heald Green and Little Hulton we can look after patients with complex palliative and end-of-life care needs, with a wide range of symptoms to manage. Improving patient flow in the wider health system is so important – it’s only by better care in the community, including in hospices, that precious hospital time and beds will be freed up.
We are a charity and not a NHS hospice which means we have to fundraise for a large proportion of our income. Our costs are going up all the time. We are not shielded from the huge increase in energy costs for example. At the same time many of our valued supporters will have less disposable income due to the cost-of-living crisis. There are difficult times ahead but as one of the UK’s biggest hospices we are better able to weather the storm than most.
Lots will be changing in the months ahead. What remains constant is that the compassionate end-of-life care delivered by hospices including St Ann’s remains as vital as ever. We hope you will continue to support us into the future and thank you for all your help and support to date.