Investment in end-of-life care depends on the area where the service user lives, the latest Department of Health figures show.
Although the previous government allocated £88m to support the End of Life Care Strategy in 2009-10, some primary care trusts invested nothing while others spent up to £5,426,000, the strategy’s second annual report revealed.
“There is a risk that the lack of implementation in some areas could create a postcode lottery in end-of-life care,” said Eve Richardson, chief executive of the National Council for Palliative Care. “Preventing this gap increasing in the new commissioning era will be vital.”
David Praill, chief executive of Help the Hospices, echoed the concerns: “Hospices are a major provider of end-of-life care, yet government funding for hospice care is patchy and inconsistent, with some hospices receiving significant levels of funding while others get next to nothing.”
Care services minister Paul Burstow acknowledged that the variation in investment between PCTs was a problem. “That is why more work will be done to improve training, promote best practice and make sure good end-of-life care is embedded across the NHS,” he said.
Figures released earlier this month revealed a postcode lottery in end-of-life care with big variations in the number of people dying in their own homes.
PCTs reported investing £75m of the £88m the government allocated to support the End of Life Care Strategy. The rest was spent at regional and national levels.
Voluntary hospices were the biggest beneficiaries, receiving 20% of the £75m, while care homes and specialist palliative care teams received 17% and 12% respectively.
The figures go some way to answering questions about where the £88m had been spent.
In March, research by the National Council for Palliative Care (NCPC) showed that 35% of PCTs could not account for how their share of the funding had been spent. At the time the NCPC called for the funding to be ring-fenced.
What do you think? Join the debate on CareSpace
Keep up to date with the latest developments in social care. Sign up to our daily and weekly emails