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Palliative care funding to be reviewed

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An independent review of palliative care funding must look at accountability to ensure money is passed on to hospices, as well as bringing an end to the postcode lottery in resourcing, according to end of life care charities.

The review, announced last week by health secretary Andrew Lansley in his first major speech on social care, is intended to lead to a fairer funding system for all hospices and palliative services.

Mr Lansley said: “This review will look at how we better deploy the money we spend on palliative care – so those in need are better supported. We intend that whatever care patients choose will meet their needs and wishes.”

Jonathan Ellis, director of policy at charity Help the Hospices, told Nursing Times a replacement funding system was urgently required for palliative care.

He said: “One of the challenges we see is immense variation in the level of support hospices get from primary care trusts and the NHS. There are still some hospices that get little or nothing from the NHS and we are looking for the review to address that.”

Mr Ellis also said that in many areas PCTs had failed to pass on the quarter of a billion pounds provided, alongside the national end of life care strategy, to frontline palliative care services and the situation must not be repeated.

“Significant amounts of extra money were put into the health system two years ago and what we have picked up from local services is that many PCTs are struggling to identify that funding and account for what they have invested it in. What we need to see is accountability,” he said.

The independent review, which is being chaired by Marie Curie Cancer Care chief executive Tom Hughes-Hallett, will cover both adults and children’s services and will report back by summer 2011.

The review is also set to look at ways to encourage more community based care to enable people to die in their own homes.

A report from cancer charity Macmillan, also published last week, found nearly half of PCTs in England did not provide 24/7 community nursing to all patients at the end of their life. The finding comes despite the end of life care strategy calling on PCTs to make access to community nursing available at all times to such patients.

Last month the government announced £40m for hospices to improve their environments and £30m has been made available this year for the creation of children’s palliative care projects.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • The significant amout quoted has not been seen by me as a palliative community care provider (District Nursing). Resourcing the care providers seems to be the starting point. Although I agree monies should go to the Hospice it is only a small element in my area of care provision. The actual care givers are community nurses and the human resources are being stretched to breaking point here. The system also is prohibitory under the continuing health care assessment as patients can only receive 1 hours care at home for 'hotel services' True 24hr care at home is not realistically fundable? instead patients and carers are subjected to nursing traffic of visits throughout the day and night. So what has the PCT done with the money?

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