Acorns hospice decision looms as public consultation ends
A final decision on the future of Acorns children's hospice in Walsall has moved closer following the end of the public consultation period.
Time has run out for families of children who have used the hospice and members of the public to have their say on the hugely contentious plan to shut the Walstead Road centre.
Acorns bosses delivered a bombshell last month when they announced their intention to close the much-loved Walsall hospice due to rising costs and falling donations.
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The announcement sparked fundraising campaigns across the Black Country, while thousands of pounds have been raised through online donation pages.
Charity officials are due to meet with trustees over the coming days and once the feedback from the public has been considered a final recommendation will be put to the board.
Campaigners were given a glimmer of hope last week when NHS England confirmed plans to increase funding to children's hospices, with £25m of NHS funding to be ring-fenced to support children’s hospices by 2023/24, increasing annually from this year’s baseline of £12m.
However, excitement was reined in by Acorns chief executive Toby Porter who said "it is not yet clear how much extra funding Acorns will receive as a result of this, and when".
Mark Lyttle, whose 11-year-old daughter Isabella lost her brave fight to neuroblastoma in May and had been supported by the hospice, says he has been encouraged the funding boost could deliver a positive outcome supporters are desperate for.
He said: "Acorns have said it is a very positive step. That's what they needed. We are just waiting for this board meeting. I am quietly confident. I can't see how they can't if the Government funding is in place.
"Now is the time to go out there and campaign. It's a very emotive subject, a children's hospice shutting, it shouldn't be that difficult to go to people and say this is the situation we find ourselves in and we need your help."