The government should do more to support Prospect Hospice so that it does not have to rely on donations to survive.

That is the view of Des Morgan, of Caraway Drive in Swindon, who wrote to the Adver after reading about the hospice's recent appeal for help to fill a £1 million funding gap.

Mr Morgan said: "As sad as it is, the fact is that Swindon’s much-needed Prospect Hospice is always going to ask for more money.

"In April 2021, a former chair of trustees, Tim Wills, backed Prospect’s Thanks a Million campaign and Tim said he justified the scheme on the basis that “Obviously, a million pounds is a huge ask by Prospect Hospice, and it’s not something that’s going to happen every year, but this past year has been unprecedented”. 

"He was of course referring to the Covid years.

"In April 2022 – guess what, yes Prospect launched another campaign to raise £600,000 citing Covid and that NHS funding had not increased to cover costs. 

"Chief executive Irene Watkins said: “Like all charities, we saw a sharp decline in income from March 2020 as our shops closed and fundraising activities were cancelled." 

"It says it will no longer be able to support as many patients and families who desperately need the specialist end-of-life care unless donations by the community increase by 10 per cent. 

"According to Irene, it cost £7.5m to run Prospect in 2022.

"In June 2023, incoming chief executive Jeremy Lune upgraded the ‘Covid’ related losses from £1 million to a staggering £2 million and said, "We cut a lot of services - we're down to six beds out of 12, and the day therapy area is an empty meeting room”.

"According to Jeremy’s recent appeal in April 2024, Prospect Hospice costs £8.5 million to run and faces another £1 million shortfall in its funding even though it has halved the number of beds from twelve to six something it did back in 2023 and which Jeremy acknowledged cost £3m a year.

"I think we can all agree that Tim Wills' view that “asking for £1 million pounds was not something that was going to happen every year” was genuinely felt but the very opposite is the reality.

"I know that many Swindon organisations will make every effort to help Prospect raise the money it needs, but here’s the rub.

"Why should any hospice be subject to most of its income being raised by appealing to charity?

"As I have said many times before, the government, of whatever political complexion, can always find money for foreign aid, overseas wars and to give handouts to France and Rwanda, to name but two countries.

"We need to look after our own first."