Councillors urge Board to back Bethesda and plug funding shortfall

Concerns have been raised about the future funding of Bethesda in Stornoway.
Concerns have been raised about the future funding of Bethesda in Stornoway.

Bethesda Hospice in Stornoway is facing a funding shortfall due to a lack of support from NHS Western Isles though the new Integrated Joint Board (IJB).

Stornoway Councillors Gordon Murray and Rae Mackenzie understand that prior to the set up of the IJB, the Health Board was expected to fund 50 per cent of the Hospice Services, as advised by the Scottish Government.

Failure to cover the full 50% has left the Hospice struggling to cover costs and Cllr Murray and Mackenzie are calling on members of the IJB to resolve this issue as a matter of urgency.

Cllr Murray said: “Bethesda Hospice have had no increase in funding since 2007. Funding has dropped to 32% of costs over ten years or more. Bethesda now has to pay 68% of Hospice Costs.”

Councillor Rae MacKenzie added: “The bottom line is that Bethesda has to raise an extra £100K on top of the £270k they already need to raise - and that is just to break even.”

A report with a recommendation on the funding level is due to come before IJB in March and it is hoped that IJB chair and members will reject 3% and agree the full 50% at least.

Cllr Murray added: “The real issue here is that the Board are passing these costs onto the community through the IJB.

“Under the new arrangements, the Health Board are meant to be transferring monies from acute services into the community. We are not seeing any evidence of this.

“Instead the third sector and local communities are being asked to do more with less funding, or indeed no funding at all.”

Rae MacKenzie continued:: “Bethesda provides a much-needed service. Some months its outgoings are greater than its income. This puts a huge burden on staff who are already working on less than favourable conditions to try and keep costs down.”

Councillor Murray said: “The people of our Islands give huge amounts of funding to Bethesda. When they have to ask the community to meet this shortfall in funding, it means that people have to make hard choices on who to help.

“The bottom line is that when Bethesda asks the public to give more, and the public responds, then there is less money around for everyone else. Just think what our other wonderful organisations could do if there was an extra £100,000 of the public’s money to go around?”

Cllr Murray has already written to the Chair the IJB requesting urgent action.