BOLTON Hospice is calling on commissioning bosses to lift an eight-year funding freeze — which has seen the institution lose out on £850,000.

The chief executive of Bolton Hospice says they will need more financial support from the NHS if they are to “bridge the funding gap”.

Rises in inflation mean the hospice has to find an extra £240,000 on top of its £2.5 million annual fundraising target.

Dr Leigh Vallance, chief executive of Bolton Hospice, said: “With no inflationary rise to the NHS’s contribution to our running costs the value of their funding has, in real terms, declined year on year.

This has meant that every year we have had to try to raise more and more money ourselves to bridge the widening funding gap.

“This has proved exceptionally difficult, not least due to the effect of wider economic issues on our fundraising. Some years we simply have not been able to bridge the gap, leaving us with a deficit.”

In the financial year 2012 to 2013, the hospice recorded a deficit of £337,000.

The NHS Bolton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) currently gives the hospice about £1 million a year towards its £3.5 million running costs.

Bolton CCG has also had its funding frozen by the government and must make savings of £18 million — five per cent of its £340 million allocation.

Annette Walker, chief finance officer at Bolton CCG, said: “Over recent years, the CCG’s funding grant to Bolton Hospice has remained static due to pressures on NHS funding.

“We understand the difficulties this presents for the hospice. We value the work it carries out and we remain committed to our continuing collaboration.”

Half of hospices in England have had their NHS statutory funding either cut or frozen this year due to financial restrictions on NHS commissioners, according to a new survey by Help the Hospices.

Andy Morgan, a trustee at Bolton Hospice, said: “The whole funding mechanism needs reviewing. We are obviously no different to any other NHS organisation at the current time.

“People still don’t understand why the hospice is not funded 100 per cent by the NHS. It provides an absolutely vital end of life service for patients.

"Times are difficult for the hospice and it is only thanks to the generosity of the Bolton public that we are able to carry on with what we are doing. It’s getting tougher to do more with less money and the demand is going up.”