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Hospice faces jobs cut crisis

A HOSPICE which has helped thousands of families in their dark- est hours is facing serious cutbacks after a drop in funding. Heart of Kent Hospice has re-

vealed that up to 20 posts may be lost after a period of consultation. Donations through wills have

fallen in the past two years while government funding has dropped by about 9% in five years. Although the charity has man-

aged to shave £420,000 off its costs this year, it needs to find additional savings of £575,000. The hospice’s running costs stand

at £5.4m annually. A spokesman for Heart of Kent Hospice acknowledged the serious- ness of its position but said there was “no panic” and there would be “no compromise to patient care”. Now the Aylesford-based charity

has launched a campaign to raise £600,000 next year. Chief executive Sarah Pugh said:

“For 25 years, Heart of Kent Hospice has been caring for people with a terminal illness in our community. “But the uncertain economic cli-

mate is hitting us hard as the de- mandfor our help and costs rise, but funding is increasingly difficult to secure.

“Donations left to us through gifts

in a will, which has always been a vital source of funding, have been particularly low. “Funding from government is

also down in real terms, contribut- ing 25% of our costs in 2011-12 and just 16% in 2016-17. “Our supporters are just not able

to give as much as they used to. “This means we must now care-

fully review the serviceswe are able to offer in order to ensure the long- term future of our core inpatient, community nursing, outpatient and emotional support services. “Regretfully, this means there are

likely to be redundancies. Our goal is to minimise the impact on patient care. “We are appealing to ourcommu-

nity to Get Behind Heart of Kent Hospice, to help raise an additional £600,000 in 2017.” You can make a donation at or text “HOKH17 £5” to 70070.

Surgery cuts go deep By Dennis Fowle

THE wide range of non-urgent sur- gery is to be seriously reduced until April by the local Clinical Commis- sioning Group (CCG), which needs to save about £4m before the end of the financial year in April. This will also reduce pressure on

local hospitals, but the trust will not be authorised to sub-contract to the independent sector up to April. In addition, all male and female sterilisation and reversals are stopped to the end of 2017/18. The GP-led NHSWest Kent CCG

is also looking at:  Cataract surgery - restricting ac- cess depending on vision loss. Surgery restriction – new criteria offering help to the overweight and smokers to avoid the need for sur- gery or to ensure better results from operations. Thiswas in the pipeline for hip and knee replacements.  IVF – funding just one round of IVF with an age limit of 42.  Prescriptions – not prescribing medicines that can be bought over the counter, unless there is no other way to meet a clinical need eg painkillers, hayfever treatments,

nicotine replacement therapy. Food supplements will be reviewed.  Injections – stopping hip injec- tions and spinal cord stimulation unless underNHSEngland criteria. Outpatient services will also be re-

viewed. The CCG faces significant extra

costs in acute (hospital) care, mental health as well as healthcare. It wants to continue to develop serv- ices outside hospitals. Dr Bob Bowes, CCG chairman,

said if it overspent budget now, more severe cuts would be needed later. “We have looked carefully at ensuring least impact on patients.” He added that health and social

care organisations across Kent and Medway were now working to- gether to re-organise services so that they support patients better, mostly in their own home and communi- ties. Key beneficiaries would be the frail and elderly.  Dr Bowes called for wiser use of services, especially at A&E, where 40% of patients left without treat- ment. He recommends thewebsite to in- vestigate symptoms and the nearest place for help.

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