TWO of the county’s top hospices have urged people to turn their backs on the new Health Lottery, warning that it could deprive Worcestershire patients of the care they depend on.

St Richard’s Hospice and Acorns Children’s Hospice are encouraging people to continue to use their lottery scheme instead.

The two local hospices benefit to the tune of £145,000 generated each year from their own fundraising lottery, but there are fears this income could be seriously affected if people choose to play the Health Lottery instead.

Dawn Scott, lottery manager for The Hospices Lottery, which raises funds for the two charities, said: “Our weekly hospice lottery is an essential source of income for both St Richard’s Hospice and Acorns Children’s Hospice, raising an important part of the money we need each year to provide our free specialist care services for local adults and children.

“We’re extremely concerned, therefore, that the new Health Lottery could divert significant amounts of money away from local hospice care, which is the last thing we need in this already difficult economic climate.

“Playing the Health Lottery might sound like a good idea for those who wish to support good causes, but the fact is it will only donate 20p to charity for every £1 spent on tickets – just a fraction above the minimum amount required by law. And because it’s a national initiative, players can never be sure exactly who they will be supporting with the money they give to the Health Lottery.

“In comparison, for every £1 received by the Hospices Lottery a minimum of 50p (after prize money has been awarded) goes directly towards local hospice care in South Worcestershire, so players can rest assured that their money is being well spent in their own community.

“With the NHS providing only a small proportion of our funding, we depend upon our lottery to keep going. It’s for this reason that we’re urging people who care about their local hospice to say “no” to the Health Lottery.”

The Hospices Lottery’s ‘No to the Health Lottery’ campaign is being supported nationally by the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations and Help the Hospices, the national charity for hospice care.

David Praill, chief executive of Help the Hospices, added: “In these already challenging times, we are very concerned that this new lottery could have a serious impact on the vital funds generated by the hospice lotteries that take place every week across the UK.

“Hospices are local charities rooted in the communities they serve, and although hospice care is free for seriously ill people and their families, it is not free to provide, and collectively hospices have to raise more than £500 million every year.

If you require any further information on the Hospices Lottery, contact 01905 760909.