NHS England will increase funding for children’s hospices to as much as £25 million a year, chief executive Simon Stevens announced today.
Medical advances mean the NHS can help seriously ill children and young people with more complex health issues live longer, more fulfilling lives.
NHS England’s hospice grant programme currently provides £11 million a year for children’s hospices, helping to provide care and support to children and their families close to home in their final days.
Over the next five years, as part of the NHS long term plan, additional funding will be available each year, increasing by up to £7m a year by 2023/24, if Clinical Commissioning Groups also provide additional match funding.
Simon Stevens, NHS England chief executive, said: “Looking after a child at the end of their life is the hardest thing a parent or carer will ever do, and it is vital they have somewhere to turn for help if they need it.
“Providing help and support to families when they need it most is a top priority for the NHS which is why ensuring specialised, personalised care close to home will be part of the NHS long term plan.”
Andy Fletcher, Together for Short Lives chief executive said: “This is a very welcome boost for children’s hospices which provide such crucial care and support to seriously ill children and their families across England. We know that the number of children with life-limiting conditions is growing and the care and support they need is increasingly complex. I am delighted that NHS England has recognised the gap in funding for local children’s hospices, which offer a real lifeline, providing vital care and support for families providing 24/7 care.
“The funding will enable children’s hospices to maintain and develop their services for the most complex children, and in doing so help reduce pressure on the NHS, keeping children out of hospital longer and enabling greater choice in their care and support at the end of life. It is now vital that clinical commissioning groups to work closely with the NHS and local children’s hospices to ensure that services are there to support families now and in the future.”
Tracey Bleakley, Hospice UK chief executive, said: “This is welcome news for children’s hospices and the families that they support. The children and young people supported by hospice care have complex needs associated with life-limiting conditions, and hospices provide a lifeline to them and their families.
“Providing this extra funding over the next 5 years will help provide more stability for children’s hospices at a time when demand for their support is increasing. We hope that local clinical commissioning groups will take NHS England’s lead and play their part in making sure this much needed investment helps children’s hospices reach even more families in need.”
England is already among the best countries in the world for end of life care, with the NHS not only looking after an individual’s physical care, but also focusing on their emotional, social, practical and psychological needs.
NHS England continues to work with other national organisations and charities through our National End of Life Care programme to support people, including providing guidance on specialist palliative care.
NHS England funding will ramp up over the next five years so that up to £25 million is spent on hospices by 2023/24.
Hospices provide care for people from the point their illness is diagnosed as terminal, until the end of their life. Hospice care does not necessarily need to be continuous and patients can take a break if their condition has become stable and are feeling well enough.
Care teams can help control symptoms such as pain or breathlessness, with a child staying at the hospice for a short period of time before going home again.
They can also offer respite care where the child’s family or carers can have a break for a short while.