By Daniel Hunter
More people should be able to spend their final days in a place of their choice and new Government funding will help to make this happen, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley announced today (Tuesday).
The current system of end of life care does not work well enough. Some patients and their families receive excellent care and excellent support while others miss out. NHS funding for palliative care services is often poorly distributed and varies greatly around the country.
A new fairer funding system is needed but essential information needed to develop a system doesn’t exist. Eight pilots sites — with a share of £1.8 million will collect this vital information and help the Government meet its aim of having a new per-patient funding system for both adult and children’s palliative care services.
Seven new adult pilot sites will each receive an extra £200,000 and a children and young persons pilot will receive £400,000.
The Government wants to create a fairer system, which supports people to be cared for in the setting of their choice and enables end of life care to reach all in local communities who need it.
“It is most important to us that both children and adults, their families and carers get the right care and support at the end of their lives. This includes being able to make choices about where they are cared for, including at the end of their life," Andrew Lansley said, speaking at a Marie Curie event.
“A fair funding system will enable us to ensure that this support is available. It will ensure all qualified providers of end of life care, whether they be statutory, voluntary or independent, are fairly funded. The pilots will have an essential role in helping us in this work.”
The seven adult pilots selected to help with this essential work are being led by:
- NHS North Yorkshire and York
- St Christopher's Hospice, London
- University of Sheffield
- University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust
- The Heart of Kent Hospice
- Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
- Royal Wolverhampton Hospitals NHS Trust
The pilot area for children’s palliative care services is a consortium being led by the following organisations:
- East of England Child Health and Wellbeing Team
- West Midlands Paediatric Palliative Care Network
- Great Ormond Street Hospital
- Northwest Children and Young Peoples Palliative Care Network
Ministers are setting up the pilots following a recommendation from the independent Palliative Care Funding Review which was chaired by Tom Hughes-Hallett, Chief Executive of Marie Curie Cancer Care. The review, which reported last summer, made a number of proposals on how to make sure that the funding of hospices and other palliative care providers, for both adult and children’s services, is fair and transparent. It recommended that pilots be set up to collect information to test its proposals.
Professor Sir Mike Richards, Chairman of the Palliative Care Funding Working Group, which considered all the bids to be pilot sites, said:
“The Palliative Care Funding Review recognised that palliative care is a very complex area and that we just do not have the essential information needed to develop a fair funding system. The pilots will collect this vital information and help the Government meet its aim of having a new per-patient funding system for both adult and children’s palliative care services. I was delighted with the response of the palliative care sector to the Departments call for pilot sites and the excellent quality of the bids we received.”
Dame Barbara Monroe, Chief Executive of St Christopher’s Hospice, said:
“St Christopher’s has a long history of being in the forefront of providing high quality palliative and end of life care. It is important that we have a funding system that is responsive to the needs of patients and fairly supports the work of all providers of care. We and our partner organisations are excited about being selected to contribute to this work.”
Dr Sheila Shribman, National Clinical Director for Children, Young People and Maternity Services, said:
“I welcome the pilots very much as it brings us closer to a fairer funding system for all providers of children's palliative care, and also puts children and their families in the driving seat.”
The pilot sites will collect data over two years up to 2014 with the new funding system being introduced from 2015.
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