Ensuring the long term sustainability and future financial health of the Ayrshire Hospice is of paramount importance to the Hospice Board. As the hospice marks its 30th anniversary and looks to the future, we need to do all that we can to make sure that our vital charity continues to be well-placed to deliver care and services to patients and families with life-limiting illness across Ayrshire, for a further 30 years and more.  In safeguarding the financial health of the hospice we must continuously review and respond to increasing external cost pressures, changes in legislation and unpredictable financial climates, making sure that we adapt accordingly. 

In keeping with this, the Board has recently awarded hospice staff a pay uplift that will keep salaries aligned with NHS pay structures and allow the hospice to become a Scottish Living Wage employer.  This will also allow the hospice to retain, attract and recruit the best possible staff, capable of delivering exceptional care to patients and families for generations to come.

Challenges faced

This decision however, is not without cost and, as is the case with many hospices across the UK, poses a significant financial challenge.  As an independent charity, the hospice must find ways to address these increased costs and other emerging cost pressures which we forecast will give rise to a financial deficit. A 2.7% increase in contribution funding from NHS Ayrshire and Arran for 2019-20 has been welcomed and although notable efforts have already been made to identify efficiency savings across the hospice, together, these combined measures will not bridge the financial gap. 

We will continue to make representations to Scottish Government for additional funding support and will be reviewing our own fundraising strategy to maximise all possible income streams into the future. We have introduced an initial recruitment freeze and are also inviting staff who may be interested in applying for a voluntary reduction in hours or possible voluntary redundancy to do so.  The Board anticipates these steps will avoid our costs greatly exceeding income in three years’ time.  Compulsory redundancy is an absolute last resort and would only be considered if initial measures do not realise the necessary balanced budget, and all other avenues have been exhausted.

I would like to reassure all our patients and families, valued supporters, volunteers and partners that these pro-active steps will ensure the long-term sustainability of the Ayrshire Hospice, safeguarding our free of charge services and the exceptional, quality care we currently provide.  It is important to note that the financial pressures being felt are not exclusive to the Ayrshire Hospice. A report published recently by Hospice UK about cost pressures revealed that these circumstances are being replicated in hospices across the UK, with many now having to consider their financial position due to the impact of the significant pay increase in the NHS as well as other economic factors. 

The measures we are taking are designed to ensure the future of the hospice care, services and facilities that are so important to patients and families across Ayrshire, whilst allowing us to improve our financial health and achieve a balanced budget.  I would like to pay tribute to the dedication, resilience and professionalism of all our highly skilled staff and volunteers at this time and to sincerely thank the Ayrshire community, NHS Ayrshire and Arran and our grant funders for their past, current and continued support in making today matter for our patients and their families. It is hugely appreciated.