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RCN backs call for ringfenced child palliative care funds

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All elements of children’s palliative care should be eligible for ring-fenced state funding, according to a charity.

The Royal College of Nursing backed the call from the charity that provides specialist emotional and practical support to families with children with a life threatening or terminal illness.

“This bespoke support is vastly undervalued and underfunded”

Zillah Bingley

In a report published today, the Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity estimated it was saving public services at least £2m every year through its work.

It highlighted examples of how the it saved money for public services including family support workers ensuring that NHS appointments were not missed by families, and that paediatric beds were freed up sooner because a family feels more confident to manage their child’s condition at home.

However, the Rainbow Trust noted that it only received 3% of its funding from the state – enough to fund only 11 days of support in a year.

The charity said its tailored care costs just £22.64 per hour and the charity supported more than 2,000 families.

The report – titled Hidden Savings – calls on the government to ensure that all elements of children’s palliative care are eligible for ring-fenced state funding.

“Nursing staff do all they can to care for children and their parents during these difficult times”

Fiona Smith

Doing so would mean support such as bereavement and emotional help as well as support for siblings – all provided by organisations such as Rainbow Trust – were no longer neglected, it said.

Rainbow Trust chief executive Zillah Bingley said: “There are thousands of UK families facing their worst nightmare who do not currently receive our support and we know that the number of families affected will only increase in the future.

“It is time for the government to recognise the value of emotional and practical support for the families with seriously ill children and the savings we are making the health and social care system,” she said.

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Fiona Smith

She added: “This bespoke support is vastly undervalued and underfunded which leaves organisations such as ours trying to support as many families as we can with very limited funds.”

Fiona Smith, RCN professional lead for children and young people’s nursing, said: “When a child is seriously ill it is about so much more than physical health care – the whole family needs emotional help and support.

“Nursing staff do all they can to care for children and their parents during these difficult times, but in the current health care climate there’s only so much they can do,” she said.

“The kind of support Rainbow Trust provides is invaluable to families and saves millions of pounds,” added Ms Smith.

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