Children’s hospices will receive as much as £25m a year by 2023/24 under the long term plan, NHS England has announced.
However, the total annual increase, as part of which children’s hospices could receive up to £7m a year over the next five years, will depend on CCGs’ decision to provide additional match funding, NHS England specified.
Children’s hospices currently receive £11m a year under NHS England’s hospital grant programme, which helps children and their families be cared for closer to home.
Announcing the additional funding, NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said that personalised care closer to home will be part of the upcoming NHS long term plan.
He said: ‘Looking after a child at the end of their life is the hardest thing a parent or carer will ever do, and it is vital they have somewhere to turn for help if they need it.
‘Providing help and support to families when they need it most is a top priority for the NHS.’
End of life care
The UK was chosen as the best country in the world for end of life care in 2015 in a report by the Economist Intelligence Unit, the analysis arm of The Economist group.
Prior to NHS England’s new funding commitment, children’s hospices received around 22% of their funding from statutory sources, compared to 33% for adult hospices, according to the charity Together for Short Lives.
The charity launched a campaign in June last year encouraging the Government to increase the children’s hospice grant to £25m.
Together for Short Lives chief executive Andy Fletcher said: ‘I am delighted that NHS England has recognised the gap in funding for local children’s hospices, which offer a real lifeline, providing vital care and support for families providing 24/7 care.
‘It is now vital that clinical commissioning groups work closely with the NHS and local children’s hospices to ensure that services are there to support families now and in the future.’
Tracey Bleakley, chief executive of Hospice UK, the national charity for hospice care, believes that the additional funding will help provide more stability for children’s hospices over the next five years.
She said: ‘We hope that local CCGs will take NHS England’s lead and play their part in making sure this much needed investment helps children’s hospices reach even more families in need.’