Hospices throughout the UK provide amazing care for patients with terminal illness. Many hospices are funded by charitable donations and legacies. A question that has arisen is whether a claimant can recover the costs of care provided to him by a hospice, either by way of care provided at home or alternatively as an inpatient in the hospice. Hospices do not charge patients for their care.
In Drake v Foster Wheeler Ltd [2010 EWHC 2010] Judge Anthony Thornton QC held that the hospice costs could be recovered. This is an extension of the principle which has long been applied in mesothelioma cases that care provided by family members and friends can be recovered notwithstanding that there is no payment for the care. Although there is no exchange of money the courts have recognised for many years that the carers are providing a service of great benefit and that they should be compensated for the provision of the care. Judge Thornton QC considered that the costs incurred by the hospice was similar and should be recovered. He made an award that the defendant had to pay £10,021 directly to the hospice concerned, St Josephs’ hospice in London.
When family members provide care to mesothelioma sufferers the care is assessed by applying a discount to a commercial rate for care. For example, if a commercial rate for care is £14 per hour then the amount the family could claim would be £9.24 per hour. In deciding what amount could be claimed by the hospice evidence was put before the court by the Chief Executive of St Joseph’s which showed that the average daily cost of an inpatient was £612 and a home visit cost about £2,103. The court used this information to calculate the notional cost of the 23 days in-patient care and home visit that the claimant received when making its award of £10,021. Very often a claimant’s family will want to make a significant donation to the hospice which has assisted with the care of their loved one. Consequently, they will want to consider whether a claim should be made within the compensation claim to recover the hospice costs so that they do not have to fund the donation themselves rather the defendant will pay.