HEREFORDSHIRE families will be among those feeling the impact of a 10% shortfall in income at Acorns Children's Hospice.

Up to four beds will be closed from January to June 2006 in order to safeguard future provision.

Chief executive John Overton explained why the decision had been taken.

"I'd like to reassure the public and Acorns families that Acorns is a secure and successful organisation," he said. "However, according to Third Sector magazine, donations to global disaster appeals such as the tsunami have diverted more than £48 million away from UK charities.

"For Acorns this has come in the same year that we opened our fantastic third hospice in Worcester, increasing our costs and therefore the funds we need to raise.

"We are being prudent by constraining costs all over the organisation now, to strengthen our position and ensure we can resume 'business as usual' as quickly as possible."

Director of care, Brian Warr explained: "With careful planning, we will continue to be able to provide emergency and terminal care at our three hospices. There may, however, be some effect on the availability of respite care, although families will still be able to rely on our community team to support them at home."

Mr Overton added: "It costs us £6 million a year to provide our care services, and less than 10% of our funding comes from the Government. No charge is made to the families who use our services."