Liam Ashton, aged 19 from Halewood, has muscle wasting disease Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.
Yesterday (20 June) he travelled from Merseyside to Westminster to urge the Government to protect the Children’s Hospice Grant, which provides vital funding to his hospice, and hospices across the UK.
Liam, who attends Claire House Children’s Hospice in Merseyside, said, “Claire House means so much to me. It’s been a constant for over half my life and it’s so important that their services, and those at children’s hospices across the country, are protected.
“Things like hydrotherapy, respite and counselling aren’t offered by the NHS, and if they take those away, it will end up costing the NHS more money, take up bed spaces and make waiting lists even longer. They are so vital to so many people like me and without them we would really struggle.
“Please join me in calling on the Government to save the Grant and protect hospices like Claire House.”
On 20 June, Liam joined staff and other families from Claire House and hospices across the UK, at a lobby day at Portcullis House in Westminster. MPs were invited to attend the event to discuss the issue.
Local MPs Alison McGovern, Margaret Greenwood, Dan Carden, Ian Byrne, Sir Geroge Howarth, and Mike Amesbury, as well as Minister of State for Social Care, Helen Whately all chatted to Liam about his concerns.
David Pastor, CEO at Claire House, said, “Funding for hospices is a necessity, not a nice to have. Losing the grant would have a massive impact on hospices like Claire House at a really difficult time.
“Families have been pushed to their limits by the pandemic and cost-of-living crisis, and hospices provide a vital lifeline. We want the Government to guarantee its funding for now and the future, so we can always be there for the families who desperately need us.
“We need as many people as possible to sign our petition [details below] to show that they want the Grant protected.”
To show your support, you can sign the petition at https://www.togetherforshortlives.org.uk/campaign/save-the-childrens-hospice-grant/
Children’s hospices across the country currently receive £25 million NHS funding every year, via the Children’s Hospice Grant.
However, the Grant has not been confirmed beyond 2023/24. Children’s Hospice charity Together for Short Lives, who represent the 99,000 seriously ill children and their families, are concerned the Grant could either be cut, or distributed via Integrated Care Boards (ICBs), meaning that it may not make it to the hospices, but fund other healthcare services.
Claire House and Together for Short Lives are calling for the Grant to be:
- Maintained beyond 2023/24.
- Directly distributed to children’s hospices by NHS England as a ringfenced grant.
- Increased by at least the rate of inflation year on year.
Main image: Liam Ashton outside Parliament