Florence Nightingale Hospice services 'under threat'
Florence Nightingale Hospice Charity closed its entire retail network on 20 December when the Prime Minister put London and the South East into a new Tier 4, meaning all non-essential shops had to shut.
Like so many other charity retailers, they had only recently opened after previous restrictions were lifted and they had invested heavily in protective screens and new procedures.
And now the public is being told to stay at home under a third national lockdown. Organised activities have also been cancelled and supporters are no longer able to take on the fundraising challenges that bring in much needed income.
The charity has not specified the potential impact on future services but is anticipating a shortfall of around £1 million by the end of March. In 2019, it expanded its services with the launch of a two-year pilot Hospice At Home scheme, operating in the Aylesbury Vale to help those with life-limiting illnesses avoid hospital admission so they can spend their last days in the comfort of their homes.
A spokesperson for the charity said everything is being done to ensure patients receive excellent care now and into the future.
The Bucks Herald is aware that the charity has cashed in significant amounts of its reserves, held in investments.
In October, we reported on how charities were responding to the pandemic, with Government support making up some of their lost income. However, Florence Nightingale Hospice Charity’s chief executive, Jo Turner, told us that it is one of just a handful of hospices not to receive the generous coronavirus relief money due to the way it works with the NHS.
Ms Turner said: “We are focused on ensuring exceptionally high level of care continues to be provided through the many services paid for by sales at our shops and donations from the public.
“Through community support in the past, we have built robust finances to ensure those needing end-of-life care have received it whatever their circumstances and free of charge. However, no-one anticipated the impact of the global pandemic that is set to last well into 2021.
“We are determined to maintain services until everything is back to normal. In the meantime, we are reviewing how we fund all that we do.
“Whatever happens, specialist doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals are working tirelessly under difficult circumstances to provide an incredible level of care and compassion.”