Health Secretary annouces review into palliative care funding

A new review into the funding of palliative care was announced today by the Secretary of State for Health, Andrew Lansley, in a speech to the International Carers Conference in Leeds.

The review, chaired by Tom Hughes-Hallett, Chief Executive of Marie Curie Cancer Care, will look at how Government can make sure that the money intended to help look after people who are approaching the end of life is spent in the right way.

This will better enable patients to choose how and from whom they receive their end of life care.

The review will make recommendations for a funding system that will cover care provided by the NHS, a hospice or any appropriate provider:

  • which encourages more community-based care, so a patient can remain in their own home; and
  • that will be fair and transparent to all organisations involved in palliative care.

The review will cover both adults’ and children’s services and will report back by summer 2011.

Secretary of State for Health Andrew Lansley said:

'Having a terminal illness is a very distressing time for individuals and their families. People should be able to choose where they are cared for - most would choose to be cared for at home, surrounded by their friends and family – and be certain that the care they receive will be of the highest quality.

'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.'

Care Services Minister Paul Burstow, who yesterday visited St Ann's Hospice in
Heald Green, said:

'Everyone who is seriously or terminally ill should be properly supported. I have been to the St Ann's Hospice in Heald Green to see for myself the work that is going on and to meet families that use the services.

'The Government is committed to more personalised care for people at the end of life. Just last month we made this clear through confirming that £40 million will be invested to help hospices improve the environments where they provide care and support for patients, their families and carers.

'I am delighted that we are today taking the first step to honouring our commitment to introducing a new per-patient funding system for all hospices and providers of palliative care.'

Tom Hughes-Hallett said:

'I am delighted to have been asked to lead this important review. Good quality palliative and end of life care is so vital for patients and families. We need a funding system which is fair and encourages the provision of the right services to patients and families where and when they want them. It must also be fair to the full range of providers.'

Notes to Editors

Any recommendations will be considered in the context of the Spending Review.

Professor Sir Alan Craft has been asked to be part of the review to cover children's services.

As well as £40 million to help hospices improve the environments where they provide care and support for patients, their families and carers, £30 million has been made available for this year to help children's hospices, networks and other providers develop local children's palliative care projects.

About 500,000 people die each year in England.

At present, around 56.8% of deaths occur in hospital, around 19.5% at home, around 16.6% in care homes (which for many is their home) and around 5.2% in hospices.

Surveys of the public have shown that the first preference for most people (56-74%) would be able to die at home.

Progress since publication of the End of Life Care Strategy shows a slow decrease in the number of deaths in hospital and a slow increase in deaths at home and in care homes

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