Funding Crisis looms
Service cuts 'last resort' as funding crisis looms at Hospice Taranaki
The next 12 months will be the most “critical” in the history of Hospice Taranaki, with its boss not ruling out cutbacks in community palliative care services as a way to stay financially afloat.
The charity’s chief executive, Paul Lamb, welcomed the recently announced $3.1 million funding boost from central government for hospice care across Aotearoa.
But with the money to be shared across 27 hospice providers, Lamb did not expect much of the money to be tagged to Taranaki, leaving the organisation to scramble to find other ways to make up its ballooning shortfall.
Lamb said while a formula for divvying up the new cash had yet to be formalised, his own calculation came up with a figure that would cover about five days’ worth of operating spend.
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Meanwhile, for the coming year, Hospice Taranaki was looking at having a “seven-figure deficit” for the first time in its 31 years of operation.
And without the support from central government, it was up to the charity to find ways to fund its current workload, as well as meeting the increasing need coming through its doors.
“That’s a significant organisational challenge,” Lamb said.
He described the coming year as “the most critical” in Hospice Taranaki history, and said there was a “very strong likelihood” it would need to consider reviewing services it offered in the community as a way to tackle its financial issues.
“We would abhor that move. That would be an absolute last resort,” Lamb said.
Like Lamb, Hospice New Zealand’s acting chief executive Wayne Naylor was grateful for the $3.1m contribution.
“It gives our hospices some breathing space at a time when our communities are shouldering the burden of the increased cost to deliver quality palliative care,” he said in a statement.
The last significant funding boost for the sector was in 2015, but since then costs had grown by more than $30m, Naylor said.
In Taranaki, funding for hospice was split between the government providing 45% via a contract with the Taranaki District Health Board, and 55% coming from the community.
On July 1, the Government axed the 20 district health boards and merged their functions into a nationwide public health system, Te Whatu Ora - Health New Zealand.
The country has been split into four regions, with Taranaki joining Waikato, Lakes, Bay of Plenty, and Tairāwhiti as Te Manawa Taki.
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Lamb was unsure what the July 1 health reforms would mean for the palliative care sector in terms of funding, but he did not expect the situation to change in the next 2-3 years.
He previously said he would like the government to provide 75% of the funding it needed, with the rest coming from the community.
He said support from the latter to Hospice Taranaki was always gratefully received. This included the recent $30,000 raised following its June 19 charity auction.
However, Lamb continued to advocate that palliative care services needed to be seen as an important part of the health system.