Palliative care body calls for debate on ring-fencing funds

A major debate is needed on the possibility of introducing more ring-fencing in public spending, says the National Council for Palliative Care. The NCPC made the call because it claimed many primary care trusts are unable to account for money to support key government strategies.

A survey by the palliative care umbrella body revealed this week that 35% of primary care trusts (PCTs) cannot account for their share of £88m of funding to support the end-of-life care strategy in 2009-10.

The NCPC raised concerns about what this meant for the the £198m allocated under the strategy for 2010-11.

Lack of data

Its report called for a debate about using ring-fencing and other methods to control spending following a lack of PCT data on the £50m of funding from central government to support the carers strategy in 2009-10, and similar concerns relating to funding for the dementia strategy and disabled children’s short breaks.

In all four cases, PCTs were allocated a sum of money but were told to find it from within their general budgets.

Eve Richardson, chief executive of NCPC, said: “The government has made a strong commitment to improve end-of-life care, but without ring-fencing as an option we need a transparent and accountable way to make sure that public money is genuinely spent in the way we have been told it will be, in every locality.”

Over recent years, the government has reduced the amount of ring fenced public money for local services.

The NCPC’s findings reflect similar research by Help the Hospices last summer which found most PCTs were unable to identify the additional funding in their budgets.

Last month the Department of Health announced plans for PCTs to provide information about their spending under the end-of-life care strategy for 2009-10, but Help the Hospices said it was too late to influence funding for 2010-11.

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