The UK government recently announced £20 million extra funding for palliative care services for children with life-limiting or life-threatening conditions.
The money, which is launched alongside a children’s palliative care strategy “Better Care: Better Lives” will allow for the country’s sickest children to be cared for and die in their choice of setting, whether at home or in a hospice.
There is currently a grant of £27 million from 2006/07 – 2008/09 for children’s hospices and hospice-at-home care. The funding extends Department of Health support for hospice and hospice-at-home services for children for a further two years, with funding of £10m a year until 2011.
Care Services Minister, Ivan Lewis said: “Everything is in place for us to start transforming these vital services. There is much to do and we must not fail the families who live with these challenging situations every day of their lives.
“This is about a service-wide push to drive up quality and standards, which relies on getting everything – personalised services, commissioning frameworks, the right capacity – to work together to achieve the best possible outcomes for parents and children.”
“Better Care: Better Lives calls on local commissioners, providers and regulators to devise local strategies to enable every child and young person with a life-limiting or life-threatening condition to have access to high-quality, family-centred, sustainable care and support with services provided in a setting of choice according to the child’s and family’s wishes.
The strategy’s goals include improved data and leadership; equality of access to universal services; choice; and better end-of-life care.
The funding was welcomed by healthcare associations. Lizzie Chambers, Chief Executive of ACT (Association for Children’s Palliative Care) said:
“ACT welcomes Better Care: Better Lives. It will give commissioners the information and guidance they need to ensure that children’s palliative care services, from across the statutory and voluntary sector and from all agencies, are developed in a strategic and planned way to meet the needs of all children and young people with life-limiting conditions and their families.”
Barbara Gelb, Chief Executive, Association of Children’s Hospices, said:
“This is tremendous news for children’s hospice services and life-limited children and we are very grateful to the government. The £20m gives children’s hospice services a further two years’ breathing space to engage with local health and social care commissioners to gain secure, long-term funding. And the overall strategy offers commissioners a first-rate route map to give life-limited children and their families the full range of services they need.”
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“This will be for England and possibly Wales as the Health Service is devolved – not UK wide!” – Name and contact details supplied