Morpeth dad backs hospice's call to protect vital funding and thanks service that gave daughter her dignity back

Steph Edusei chief executive of St Oswald's Hospice
-Credit: (Image: Newcastle Chronicle)


Newcastle-based St Oswald's Hospice has joined calls to protect vital funding for the children's hospice sector.

The charity has backed a new report from national children's palliative care charity Together for Short Lives. The report says that the next Government must maintain a ringfenced £25m NHS fund for children's hospice care or else vital services could have to be cut.

A Morpeth dad whose daughter used the services has also paid tribute to St Oswald's. Ian Anderson's daughter Eve died aged 20 last year, having spent 12 years living with a brain tumour. She spent monthly breaks at St Oswald's specialist children and young adults service.

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The family's story is featured in the new report. The sector has highlighted how NHS funding for children’s hospices in England has dropped by 31% since 2021/22, while their running costs have risen by 15%.

Eve had monthly short breaks at St Oswald’s Hospice Children and Young Adults Service for 12 years after she collapsed at home aged 8 as the result of a brain tumour.

Dad, Ian, who was Eve’s full-time carer, said: "St Oswald’s Hospice became a big part of the family. Coming into the children’s unit, it was calm and serene. It wasn’t sad or depressing. Everyone was so friendly and wanted to know how you were doing. They are 100% there for the kids and Eve loved her visits.

"Even if I won the world’s super lottery, it would never be enough to say thank you and to repay St Oswald’s Hospice for giving my daughter her dignity and quality of life back."

In the report itself, Eve's story features prominently. She died in August 2023 after 12 years living with a brain tumour - this led to locked-in syndrome, but dad Ian said she never lost her sense of humour.

The report also highlights how if the vital funding is not preserved, 82% of hospices would cut or stop providing respite care or short breaks and 45% would have to cut end of life care.

Every year, St Oswald’s Hospice supports 66 children and young adults like Eve - who are aged 0-25 - and their families through short breaks and end-of-life care at the hospice, and via its outreach service.

Central funding for children’s hospices like St Oswald’s has been in place since 2006, but the Government and NHS has not committed to this continuing past 2025, as it stands. Figures show that more than half of children's hospices in England have reported running a deficit - and the funding shortfall for the sector could hit £25m in the coming year.

Together for Short Lives has written to the leaders of the parties contesting the general election, urging them to commit to a £25 million centrally funded, ringfenced children’s hospice grant for the long-term, should they form the next UK Government.

Steph Edusei, Chief Executive at St Oswald’s Hospice, said: "Maintaining sustainable funding for children’s hospices across England is essential as we have all experienced dramatic rises in running costs. Funding commitments must keep in alignment with these external factors so that we can collectively deliver the care that’s needed for young people.

"At St Oswald’s Hospice, we see the extraordinary impact our care has on children, young adults and their families every day – something we know is echoed in children’s hospices across the country. This is why we are adding our voice to this campaign ahead of the General Election.”

Andy Fletcher, Together for Short Lives chief executive said: “On the eve of the General Election, our children’s hospices are at a turning point. Our report paints a bleak picture of rising costs, local funding cuts and the prospect of lifeline services for seriously ill children being hugely reduced unless the next government intervenes urgently.

"For 18 years, families have relied on the central NHS funding for children’s hospices. The parties must commit to continuing it for the long-term as a £25 million ringfenced grant which increases with the rate of inflation.

"And more widely, amid a £295m NHS children’s palliative care funding gap, the next Prime Minister must end the sticking plaster approach to funding these crucial services. We need a review which leads to a more permanent, sustainable funding solution.

"Many seriously ill children will not be alive the next time the UK goes to the polls. We have one chance to get it right for them. They do not have time to wait."