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Funding for children’s hospices will rise to £25 million a year, NHS England has pledged.
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 £12 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.
As part of the NHS long term plan, funding will increase with an additional £13 million going to children’s hospices in 2023/24.
Clinical Commissioning Groups have been asked to provide match funding but NHS England has now guaranteed the investment after campaigners raised concerns.
Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said: “Hospices play a crucial role in providing essential children’s palliative care services, which is why our NHS Long Term Plan will double the contribution made to children’s hospices.”
James Sanderson, Director of Personalised Care at NHS England and Improvement, said: “There can be no more difficult time for a parent or carer than looking after a child at the end of their life.
“Supporting families when they need it most is a top priority for the NHS and that is why we will ensure that this funding reaches children’s hospices.”
Andy Fletcher, Chief Executive of Together for Short Lives said: “This is a really welcome commitment to invest in children’s hospices at a crucial time. We know that the number of children with life-limiting conditions is growing and the care and support they need is increasingly complex.
“With this complexity comes greater cost and I am pleased that NHS England has listened to concerns raised around a growing funding gap. This announcement will give children’s hospices more confidence to plan and deliver their services and provide vital support to meet the needs of seriously ill children and families.”
Tracey Bleakley, CEO of Hospice UK said “I’m really pleased that NHS England have listened to Children’s Hospices and families of children with life shortening conditions and have given assurances that this much needed funding increase will go directly to children’s hospices as originally intended.
“These essential services for some of our most vulnerable children and families are funded mainly from charitable donations and as both the cost and complexity of care continues to rise, we are seeing children’s hospices under increasing threat. This announcement will help make sure these children and families continue to get the support they need and deserve.”
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.
Now 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.