A GOVERNMENT funding boost for charities has been welcomed – but hospice bosses are urging the public to keep-up its support.

A package announced yesterday by Chancellor Rishi Sunak includes quarterly funding of £200 million to enable hospices to care for patients who would otherwise be in NHS hospitals.

Tracey Bleakley, chief executive officer of Hospice UK, says the money is welcome.

However, she adds it's important that people carry on supporting their local hospice.

"We are delighted that the Government is providing up to £200 million of funding per quarter to hospices to help support the NHS and respond to the Covid-19 emergency," she said.

"Hospices are on the frontline of providing care and support to almost a quarter of a million vulnerable people every year at the end of their lives.

"This unprecedented funding recognises the vital role that hospices play in supporting the NHS in its fight against Covid-19, and means hospices across the country can keep providing beds, specialist clinical care and staffing to relieve pressure on the NHS at this critical moment.

"Hospices depend on the generosity of their local communities to care for people and families affected by terminal illness. This Government support is very welcome but it’s still important that people continue to support their local hospice.

"Hospice UK is working with the NHS to disburse this much-needed funding as soon as possible so we can continue to protect the most vulnerable people in our country during this national emergency."

The announcement came shortly after it was revealed that Manorlands was facing closure within months due to a funding crisis.

Sue Ryder, which runs the Oxenhope hospice, said income had dried-up because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The charity, which relies on public donations to maintain its services, has had to close its shops and cancel fundraising events.

And with a potential funding gap of £12 million over the next three months, Sue Ryder warned that without immediate financial support it would be forced to shut its hospices and stop providing its other end-of-life services.

Calls for emergency funding from the Government had to that point drawn a blank, and the organisation issued a plea to the public for help.

An online appeal was set-up in a bid to save Manorlands and the charity's six other hospices, plus two neurological care centres, across the country.

Manorlands, which opened its doors as a hospice in 1974, provides palliative and day therapy care to patients with life-limiting conditions.

Support is given at the hospice and in the community, across an area covering Craven, Airedale and Wharfedale as well as parts of Bradford.

All services are free to patients and their loved ones, but it costs £10,000 a day to keep the hospice doors open – or £3.6m a year.

Only about one third of Sue Ryder's costs are covered by statutory funding.

Heidi Travis, the charity's chief executive, says the funding crisis came as the NHS was relying on Sue Ryder to provide support caring for thousands of families as part of the battle against coronavirus.

She said the country faced losing its hospices at a time when they were needed most.

"Our doctors and nurses are working night and day to provide end-of-life care to more people now then ever before and that will continue in the coming weeks," she added.

"We are a critical frontline support service in the fight against coronavirus."

Keighley’s town mayor, Councillor Peter Corkindale, has a close appreciation of the work carried out at Manorlands – his son serves as a volunteer driver for the hospice and good friends work there.

“What they do at Manorlands is absolutely amazing,” he said.

“The palliative care they provide is exceptional and helps take pressure off the NHS – which is particularly important at this time.

“It may be family or close friends, but there will be people we know who will need Manorlands’ help.

“If the hospice wasn’t there, where would people go?"