Bolton Hospice has slashed its funding gap by more than half but is still facing an “unsustainable deficit".

The Queens Park Street hospice announced last year that, like many similar institutions, it was facing a funding crisis with a £1.2m deficit forecast for this year.

After a campaign launched with The Bolton News this has now been cut to a deficit of just £400,000 for 2024/25 but this still threatens the hospice’s future.

Chief executive officer Dr Leigh Vallance said: “We have been overwhelmed by the show of support from our local community, it’s a true testament to the generosity of our supporters and the place we hold in Bolton’s heart.

“The funds raised so far have crucially helped to keep our vital services running over the past year, we couldn’t have done it without you, thank you.

The Bolton News: Staff and volunteers at Bolton HospiceStaff and volunteers at Bolton Hospice (Image: Bolton Hospice)

“However, as we enter a new financial year with an unsustainable deficit remaining, it’s never been more important to continue to focus our efforts on securing a fairer government funding deal.

“Our community has stepped up to support their local hospice, and now it’s time for the government to do the same.

“A more sustainable funding solution is needed so that hospices can support the NHS in meeting rapidly growing demand for end-of-life care.”

The Bolton News: The Bolton News launched the Save Bolton Hospice campaign last yearThe Bolton News launched the Save Bolton Hospice campaign last year (Image: Newsquest)

The hospice, which relies on private donations, fundraising and contributions from the government via the NHS, revealed the scale of the financial crisis it was facing in June.

Dr Vallance said at the time that the hospice may have had to cut around a third of its 16 beds because of the losses.

But since then, The Bolton News' Save Bolton Hospice campaign has helped to raise an extra £670,000.

People from all across the community have come together with a series of fundraisers both large and small scale to help raise the sum.

Unexpected extra legacy income together with growth plans have helped to cut the funding gap further still but the deficit of £400,000 is still a huge challenge.

Dr Vallance said: "We will also be exploring further income generation avenues and are humbled to have such loyal supporters who go above and beyond to ensure we can continue to be there for families when they need us most.

"Your support means the world to us.

"We will continue to do everything in our power to withstand these challenges and ensure we can continue to provide vital care and support for the people of Bolton, now and in the future.”

People across Bolton have responded with all kinds of fundraising efforts since Dr Vallance revealed the scale of the hospice's financial worries.

This included an extra special My Memories walk attended by sponsors from all over the borough and various individual effort.

Cllr Andy Morgan, hospice volunteer and trustee since 2010, said: “The campaign that the Bolton News ran, and the subsequent support of the people and businesses of the borough, has been nothing short of phenomenal. 

"Without your support and that of the public the hospice would have been in a very different financial position at year end and personally I cannot thank everyone enough.”

But the hospice is one of many institutions facing a funding crisis, with the hospice sector across the UK facing a collective deficit of £77m for this year, the worst for 20 years.

Hospices provide vital care to around 300,000 people every year and earlier this week MPs debated how they could better be funded.  

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Bolton South East MP Yasmin Qureshi said: “As I said recently in a debate in the House of Commons, the least we can do for those with a terminal diagnosis is ensure that they die with dignity surrounded by loved ones.

“Bolton Hospice provides that dignity for so many of my constituents.

“The government must do more to provide specific funding for hospices to help them plug the gap.

“It cannot be just left up to the generous local community during a cost of living crisis to plug that gap with donations.”

Dr Vallance and her colleagues have appealed to people to continue supporting the hospice by either joining its lottery or making a monthly donation.

People can also donate to its charity shops, go to fundraising events, pledge a gift in their wills or become a patron or volunteer.