Cash concerns for Strathcarron hospice team with potential loss of funding

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Care services for cancer patients could be reduced at Strathcarron Hospice if a vital funding source ends.

People living in Cumbernauld and Kilsyth have been referred to the Denny facility since it opened 38 years ago, but North Lanarkshire was considering stopping the practice.

Instead council and health officials were considering sending patients from these towns to St Andrew’s hospice in Airdrie.

It would have seen North Lanarkshire give up the six beds it currently has access to – and Strathcarron losing out on £569,000 in funding.

However, when its Health and Social Care Integration Joint Board met last week, it was decided to put on hold any changes being implemented by North Lanarkshire.

A report presented at the last joint board meeting showed that in 2017 hospice services used by residents throughout Lanarkshire were reviewed and Strathcarron was set to be dropped.

However, a stay of execution was granted when board members agreed to delay their planned review of the Strathcarron contract until December and continue its funding.

An important factor in this decision was the “high quality service” provided by Strathcarron over the years, according to the report.

While welcoming the decision, Strathcarron chief executive Irene McKie said there were still concerns in the mid to long term.

She said: “If we were to lose this funding we would need to cut four beds – it would be difficult to lose any more. But that would still leave us with savings of upwards of £300,000 to make.

“We wouldn’t want to make anyone redundant but would have to cut back on bank nurses and not fill any vacancies when someone leaves.”

The hospice currently has 24 in-patient beds, but also runs services for out-patients, community nurses and its acclaimed Hospice@Home care.

Ms McKie added: “There would maybe be fewer people in beds but there would be no less care provided.

“We’ve always provided care for people in Cumbernauld and Kilsyth and there is a real emotional link with the area.”

She said the hospice, which needs £12,900 every day to continue operating, is currently working on a £1 million deficit budget – and hoping that once again legacies will bring in the money to allow it to stay out of the red.

“However, that cannot be guaranteed. We’re grateful for all the legacies but you never know what it will be. The best year was when we received £1.7 million, but it has also been £200,000.

“The Lanarkshire situation is disappointing but we will just have to wait and see.”