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CCGs urged to plan children's palliative care

CCGs urged to plan children's palliative care

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A charity has called for clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) to work together to plan an effective children’s palliative care (CPC) service for England.

Together for Short Lives, a UK-based charity providing support to children with life-threatening and life-limiting conditions and their families, has released a guide to support CCGs to effectively commission palliative care for children and young people.
 
The relatively small percentage of children in England living with life-limiting or life-threatening conditions means that planning appropriate services can be difficult and often inefficient.
 
An effectively commissioned CPC service can save the NHS money by supporting early discharge from acute care settings through step-down care and reducing unplanned hospital admissions.

Government figures show that hospital admissions in the last year of life for children who need CPC cost an estimated £18.2m, which far outweighs the cost of providing care outside a hospital setting.
 
Andrew Fletcher, Director of External Affairs at Together for Short Lives said: “We recognise the challenges for CCGs in commissioning care for this relatively small but complex group of children. Our new guidance shows that by building partnerships CCGs can create the economies of scale necessary to commission services effectively, saving NHS money and improving care.”
 
Current commissioning and funding for the children’s palliative care sector across England is variable. Over a third of local CCG funding for children’s hospices supports just six services, while three services receive nothing.

 Dr Satbir Jassal, a GP and Child Health Lead at NHS West Leicestershire CCG, said: “The complexity of many life-limiting conditions means that young people, parents and siblings need a range of services from the NHS, local authorities and the voluntary sector – in hospitals, children’s hospices and in the community.

"As a commissioner, I also know that by implementing this guidance, CCGs have a real opportunity to make a difference – co-ordinating healthcare around the child and helping the family make the most of the short time they have together.

"Failure to commission children’s palliative care leads to undue stress for families in circumstances that are already potentially traumatic and upsetting."

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