As the country as a whole attempts to carry on with life and business, Hospice New Zealand, the national organisation representing all hospice services in New Zealand, is doing what it can to highlight the funding crisis that simply won’t go away. For those of you who were not able to read this when it was released, here’s a helpful summary of the situation from Wayne Naylor, the acting CEO of Te Kahu Pairu, Hospice NZ.
“The hospice sector is calling for the government to provide an increase in baseline funding for hospices as costs sky-rocket because of inflation. Hospice care is a valued and cherished service, that we expect to be there free-of-charge for our loved ones when they need it,” Wayne Naylor, Te Kahu Pairuri, Hospice NZ acting CEO says. Yet, of course, this essential and valued service is not really free.
In 2021, hospices cared for nearly 20,000 patients and their whānau at a cost of approximately $175.6 million. The Government covered $88 million of that cost. That means hospices needed to raise around $87.2 million from the community to bridge the gap,” Mr Naylor says.
Essentially, we have to rely on fundraising from communities to ensure people have a good death.
Raising $87 million in our communities through op shops and charity events is a mammoth task and hospices do a brilliant job at it. But in today’s climate, with rapidly rising cost of living pressures off the back of COVID, the people and businesses that support hospices are struggling.
Hospice retail stores have lost out on substantial revenue because of COVID lockdowns and restrictions, and it’s fair to say the financial pressure our hospices are facing is really precarious.”
The sector fears this funding gap is not sustainable and Mr Naylor says this critical service remains under-recognised by the government and the Ministry of Health.
With the exception of a small increase in Budget 2020, Government funding for Hospice has not kept pace with service delivery costs since an increase in funding in 2015. Costs over this period have increased significantly. For the 27 hospices with DHB contracts, costs have grown by over $41m, while government funding has increased by just $18.8m.
Following retail losses alone of over $8m during the August to November 2021 COVID lockdowns, a request for COVID relief funding at the end of 2021 was declined by the Ministry of Health.
“While the hospice sector was grateful for the $5 million additional funding per year for four years from 2020, this is merely a drop in the bucket towards the $87.2 million we need to raise in our communities to provide free palliative care.”