UK children’s palliative care charity Together for Short Lives has welcomed the Prime Minister’s decision to give an extra £25million to hospices in England, including those caring for seriously ill children and their families. However, the charity is warning that the government still needs to do much more to make sure all children’s palliative care, in hospital, hospice and at home are sustainably staffed and funded.
Last week, 10 Downing Street announced that it would commit the additional £25million with the aim of keeping hospices open and improving the quality of end of life care. It also said that the money will support the sector in relieving workforce pressures as well as introducing new services, such as out-of-hours support, respite care and specialist community teams. The £25million in 2019/20 will be funded from existing budgets and in future years will be sustained at appropriate levels through mainstream NHS funding. The Prime Minister said that this was just the beginning of an important programme of work.
While details about how the funding will be allocated are not yet available, the news could provide some relief to children’s hospices, which are under significant pressure.
Andy Fletcher, Chief Executive of Together for Short Lives, said:
“This is a welcome funding boost, coming as children’s hospices try to tackle a dangerous cocktail of rising demand and falling NHS funding. Despite today’s good news – which follows NHS England’s move in July to ringfence and increase its annual Children’s Hospice Grant to £25million by 2023/34 – more needs to be done to ensure children and families get the support they need.
“While this additional funding is very welcome, for too long the growing funding gap in palliative care for children and young people has been addressed by short term solutions which do little to address the long-term trend of rising costs, workforce shortages and complexity of care. What is needed is a long-term funded strategy for children’s palliative care, so that children and families can access quality and sustainable care in hospital, children’s hospices and at home. This needs to be addressed as an urgent priority in the Spending Review and I look forward to hearing more from the Prime Minister on this being the first step in a longer-term programme of support”.