Children’s palliative care chiefs have called for funding reforms to tackle the financial crisis in the sector, which is worsening as lottery funding comes to an end.
Children’s hospices typically receive only around 5 per cent of their funding from statutory agencies, compared with 30 per cent for adult hospices.
They were given a boost in 2003 by three-year grants, worth a total of £5.8 million a year, from the former New Opportunities Fund.
But this funding ends this year and has already contributed to the closure of four beds in each of Acorns Children’s Hospice Trust’s three 10-bed units in the West Midlands.
A delegation from the Association of Children’s Hospices is due to meet Prime Minister Tony Blair on Wednesday to push for funding reforms.
Peter Ellis, chair of the association, called for a split in funding responsibilities, with statutory agencies paying for clinical services and hospices funding support services such as social activities.
He pointed out that children who were not receiving clinical care in hospices would probably be in hospital or cared for by community nurses, and both of these arrangements would be funded by statutory agencies.
Ellis, also chief executive of the Richard House Children’s Hospice in London, called for more partnership working between health authorities.
Richard House is poised to sign a collaborative deal with seven primary care trusts in north east London and a regional lead for children’s palliative care in London is also set to take up post.