How is the cost of living crisis affecting hospices?
As a result of the cost of living crisis, hospices across the UK are currently challenged with paying over £100 million worth of additional costs. With the rapid increase in energy prices, some hospices are currently receiving energy bills which are five times greater than in usual months. These increasing energy bills could result in the need for hospices to reduce their much-needed services, or even close.
From 1 April 2023, hospices will face a further increase in their energy bills; they will no longer be protected by the Government’s energy price cap which, up until now, had somewhat alleviated the strain on hospices. Moving forwards, under the new Energy Bills Discount Scheme, hospices will only be receiving a small discount on their energy bills, akin to those offered to pubs and restaurants.
Sadly, this means that hospices will be under enormous financial pressures whilst trying to sustain their priceless care and support to those faced with a terminal illness. Having recently lost a close family member to cancer, and personally witnessed the phenomenal palliative care services offered by hospices, I’m passionate about the need to protect these wonderful services.
How is Irwin Mitchell helping hospices during the cost of living crisis?
I work in Irwin Mitchell’s Asbestos-Related Disease Team in Bristol and Cardiff. The team assists clients who are faced with an asbestos-related disease by investigating the source of their exposure and pursuing a claim against those who failed to adequately protect them from this dangerous material. In most cases, this is the client’s former employer or their employer’s insurer.
As a result of this negligence, many clients have sadly gone on to develop mesothelioma which is an aggressive form of cancer usually associated with asbestos exposure. Unfortunately, this means that many of the clients I work with are faced with a terminal diagnosis and require the essential services offered by hospices.
In recognition of the support hospices offer to clients, in the first claim of its kind in 2010, Irwin Mitchell helped a client’s family to recover the costs incurred by the hospice which cared for him from his former employer. The costs recovered were then returned to the hospice.
This legacy continues today; after a client has received hospice care, myself and my colleagues work with their family to recoup the costs incurred by the hospice. The sum recovered can then contribute to the hospice’s costs of caring for future patients and families. Those we work with often feel that this is a meaningful way of showing their gratitude for the amazing care their loved one received during their last months.
In the last four years alone, the Asbestos-Related Disease Team in Bristol and Cardiff has helped families to recover more than £288,000 for hospices across South West England and Wales. In light of the ongoing challenges faced by hospices, my team is also currently working to recover costs for ten hospices in the local area. These efforts hopefully mean that following the end of energy price caps in March, local hospices will receive some money back to help navigate these financial challenges.
What can you do to help hospices faced with the cost of living crisis?
Hospice UK are currently petitioning to the UK Government for increased support for hospices faced with rising energy bills. To show your support, you can write to your local MP using the charity's editable template.
Find out more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in supporting people and families affected by mesothelioma and other diseases at our dedicated asbestos-related disease section.