Hospices could run out of PPE in days as terminally ill fear dying alone


Hospices could run out of PPE ‘within days’ after being charged 26 times more than the NHS when their supply chains were told to prioritise hospitals

  • Hospices usually get PPE from NHS supply chains but this was stopped in March 
  • Priority is now hospitals but hospices are caring for 24,000 people a day 
  • One resident Liz Gillbert, 81, said she is scared of dying alone with just a nurse  
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Hospices could run out of personal protective equipment (PPE) ‘within days’, as terminally ill residents fear dying alone amid coronavirus restrictions.

Palliative care centres nationwide are now catering for 24,000 residents every single day – three times as many as they were during the same period last year.

They usually source their PPE through NHS supply chains, but this stopped in March to prioritise hospitals. 

Now they are being quoted as much as 26 times more for surgical facemasks than the NHS, with bosses claiming hospices across the country could ‘run out’ of protective supplies in the next week, reports ITV News.

Meanwhile with many hospices banning visitors to stem the spread of the virus, terminally ill patients approaching the end of their lives are facing the prospect of dying alone. 

Liz Gilbert is 81 and has terminal cancer. She said: ‘To know you’re going to die alone, that’s the worst part about it.’  

Hospice resident Liz Gilbert is 81 (pictured) and has terminal cancer. She said: ‘To know you’re going to die alone, that’s the worst part about it.’

She told ITV: ‘I know you’ll have a nurse – it’s not quite the same as your own family. I think that plays on my mind more than anything.’

Hospice UK’s chief executive Tracey Bleakley said she believes her sector will run out of PPE ‘within days’. 

She added: ‘They’re already having to ration supplies, which means we’re putting out staff at risk, and it also means we’re putting people in the community at risk.’

End of life care providers have had to turn to the private sector to source PPE, but prices are being inflated with many unable to afford bulk purchases. 

Some hospices have been quoted £480 for the same box of surgical facemasks available to the NHS for just £18. 

Palliative care centres nationwide are now catering for 24,000 residents every single day - three times as many as they were during the same period last year

Palliative care centres nationwide are now catering for 24,000 residents every single day – three times as many as they were during the same period last year

Hospice UK, which is the national charity for end of life care, is hoping to be allowed back on to the NHS supply chain managed by the Government.   

Asked about PPE shortages at hospice’s at tonight’s Downing Street press conference, Dominic Raab said: ‘We have been guided throughout by the NHS about where – a: the shortfalls have been, and, b: what’s the priority.

‘And, we have always said that the priority has been on the frontline of the NHS and care homes.

‘But, obviously, we want to make sure that we have got enough PPE. That’s why we are doing all these flights from abroad.’

Sue Ryder warned earlier this month that it may have to close its 11 hospices and rehabilitation centres after its charity shops closed.  

The charity said it had a funding gap of £12million over the next three months – warning that without immediate financial support, its critical end-of-life care will cease.   

Hospice UK's chief executive Tracey Bleakley (pictured) said she believes her sector will run out of PPE 'within days'

Hospice UK’s chief executive Tracey Bleakley (pictured) said she believes her sector will run out of PPE ‘within days’

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