Hospices for children win funding reprieve

Essential care services for thousands of terminally ill children across England have been saved from closure by a £27m boost from the government.

The funding package was announced by health secretary Patricia Hewitt this week and replaces a Lottery grant that is due to run out by December 2007. The money will be spent over the next three years on services including end-of-life care in hospices, help at home, and respite care.

The Association of Children’s Hospices met with Tony Blair last month to warn that hospice services were under immediate threat and that more statutory funding needed to be secured.

Although the announcement was welcomed by the ACH, chief executive Barbara Gelb said she still wanted to see a long-term solution. Children’s hospices in England receive on average just 2.7 % of their running costs from statutory sources, compared to 18.5 % in Scotland.

“We asked the prime minister for a short-term cash injection and he has delivered,” Gelb said. “We will now continue pressing our second request for a longer term review of how England’s children’s hospices services are funded, leading to permanent improvements in statutory funding and local partnerships.”

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