Faced with a severe drop in income due to COVID and lockdown restrictions, Ashgate Hospicecare in Chesterfield, North Derbyshire mobilised the support of its local community behind a public advocacy campaign to get the increased end of life funding from local health budgets that it needed to be able to avoid job cuts at the worst possible time.
Prior to COVID, Ashgate had been in protracted discussions with Derby and Derbyshire NHS CCG for increased end of life funding for many months. The hospice had a £2million budget deficit that the Board of Trustees said was no longer sustainable given the impact of COVID and that the local health system needed to contribute to a larger proportion of care costs.
The Board of Trustees and Leadership Team quickly recognised that the pandemic was going to make the hospice's already serious funding situation much worse. The charity's shops and fundraising events were closed and cancelled as lockdown restrictions came into force. Indeed, the charity estimates that so far COVID has led to over £3million in lost income.
Yet, Ashgate stepped up as never before in its 30 year history and unlike many hospices immediately decided to start accepting end-of-life COVID patients with all the challenges in terms of infection control, PPE and new procedures that brought. Almost unbelievably, at a time when its compassionate end of life care had never been more needed by the North Derbyshire community, the funding situation was at its most dire with redundancies a real possibility.