DH puts end-of-life care spending question to SHAs

The Department of Health’s decision to quiz strategic health authorities on exactly how they are spending £286m earmarked for end-of-life care has been criticised by hospice experts.

A DH letter to all strategic health authorities and primary care trusts asks them to identify the services that have received additional investment from the funding. The cash was to support the government’s End of Life Care strategy, but was not ringfenced.

Jonathan Ellis, director of public policy at Help the Hospices, said: “This should have been done earlier. A real concern is that this huge investment has been made without any clear monitoring or accountability.”

He added: “This will be helpful in identifying how investment decisions have already been made, but it’s not going to influence next year’s decision-making.”

PCTs will be asked to identify how much new investment they have put into specialist palliative care teams, carers assessments, care resources and public awareness. PCTs and SHAs received £88m in 2009-10 and will receive a further £198m in 2010-11.

Last year, Help the Hospices members reported that most PCTs in their areas were unable to identify additional funding for end of life care as a result of the extra DH cash.

However, Emily Sam, deputy director of policy development at the National Council for Palliative Care said: “This is a useful step forward.”

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