Health secretary Andrew Lansley has said he wants a new system of per-patient funding for end of life care in place by 2015, a year earlier than was recommended in the Palliative Care Funding Review.
The review, which reported earlier this year, said the new system would reduce variation in access to palliative care across England, incentivise the development of community services, and be fair to patients in all settings, whether in hospitals, care homes, hospices, or at home.
Addressing the Help the Hospices’ annual conference last week, Mr Lansley said: “We have an opportunity to give people the best care at the end of their lives. We need to push forward with reform and I want a new system in place by 2015, moving forward faster than the review proposed.”
But the charity’s chief executive, David Praill, warned the intervening years would be a “period of unprecedented change” in healthcare, and palliative care providers would need protection.
“We cannot risk destabilising the current provision of funding, which would have serious implications for people facing the end of life and their friends and family,” he said.
Last week also saw the publication of the Department of Health’s third annual End of Life Care Strategy Report.
Nurses were at the forefront of many examples of good practice described in the report, including work in Torbay to develop local prognostic indicators for identifying non-cancer patients who may be in their last year of life.