The boards of the two charities agreed in March to work towards a merger to support and advance the interests of the hospice and palliative care sectors. The merger will bring together a wealth of resources, knowledge and networks under the Hospice UK name.
The merger coincides with the fiftieth anniversary of the foundation of the modern hospice movement by Dame Cicely Saunders and Hospice UK is looking to the future with its five-year strategy committing to:
Extending its reach and enabling hospice quality care to be delivered in any setting
Tackling inequality and widening access to hospice care
Working with communities to build capacity and resilience to care for those at the end of life
Empowering a strong, dynamic and responsive hospice sector.
Despite their strategic value, mergers are unusual in the charity sector. One Charity Commission study found that just 3 per cent of charities would consider merging.
Hospices provide support to more than 200,000 adults every year whose lives are affected by incurable illness or are coming to an end. Care for babies, children and young people is a significant and distinct type of hospice care and an estimated 49,000 children are living with a life-shortening or terminal condition. The demand for hospice care is expected to rise as people live longer, often with complex health needs.
Contrary to popular belief, palliative care is not just about what happens in beds on hospice wards, a lot of care given takes place outside this traditional hospice environment: in so-called ‘day hospice’, in people’s homes and the community.
Hospice UK works with over 220 local hospices that deliver care free of charge. Charitable hospices receive on average a third of their costs from the NHS and need to raise the rest from their local communities, amounting to £2.7m a day.
Hospice UK Chairman Michael Howard, Rt Hon Lord Howard of Lympne CH QC, said:
“Everyone has the right to the very best end of life care and support, wherever they live, and whatever their condition.”
“Fifty years after the first modern hospice opened its doors, we are now united in looking ahead to the next half a century and transforming end of life care. By teaming up with NCPC, we can expand our reach and impact – and ultimately improve outcomes for everyone who benefits from end of life care.”
“This is a natural step for our organisations given our history of collaboration and the goals we share. I am very excited about this new chapter and the opportunities it opens up for everyone involved in hospice and palliative care.”
Hospice UK CEO Tracey Bleakley said:
“We need a bold new approach to caring for adults and children facing life shortening conditions and confronting the taboo subjects of death and bereavement. This merger will greatly strengthen our ability to do this.”
“As we join forces we are looking at how we can open up good end of life care for everyone no matter who you are, where you are or what condition you have. It also means embracing conversations about death, dying and bereavement at schools and workplaces, as well as at home with our family, friends and neighbours.”
“Far from being a place where people spend their final hours, hospice care is about helping people to live as fully as possible for as long as they can and supporting people and their families and communities.”
Outgoing NCPC Chair and now Vice-President of Hospice UK, Ilora Finlay, Baroness Finlay of Llandaff, said:
“I am delighted that our organisations are joining forces to further strengthen the voice for excellent palliative and end of life care for all. NCPC has, in its 25 years, done so much to broaden and develop end of life care and palliative care has become mainstream across health and social care – which was always our aim.”
By coming together, we will continue to provide a clear vision and an even stronger voice for end of life care everywhere, because the most important person in end of life care is the person with the life limiting condition and their family. Dying Matters has opened up a national conversation about death and dying.”
“The voice of the person will be strengthened and broadened through direct communication with those providing care; together we are stronger as we take this vital work forward.”