Charity succeeds in battle to ring-fence NHS funding for children's hospices

Together for Short Lives had accused NHS England of going back on a promise to more than double the funding by 2023/24

(Photograph: Siriwat Nakha/EyeEm/Getty Images)
(Photograph: Siriwat Nakha/EyeEm/Getty Images)

Together for Short Lives has won its battle to ring-fence NHS funding for children’s hospices, which is due to more than double to £25m a year.

NHS England promised last year that funding for children’s hospices would more than double from £12m to £25m by 2023/24, dependent on clinical commissioning groups providing additional match funding to the NHS’s £7m investment.

But Together for Short Lives last month accused NHS England of reneging on its promise to properly fund children’s hospices by making the money available to non-palliative care services too.

The charity had also warned that the average amount received by each children’s hospice had fallen by £7,000 on average to £364,076 a year, with 74 per cent expecting a real-terms cut in the money they received in 2018/19.

Following Together for Short Lives’ intervention, NHS England said today that it would provide the full £25m itself without input from CCGs.

NHS England will also carry out an assessment to understand whether additional funding, either nationally or from CCGs, is needed to provide children’s palliative care in non-hospice settings.

Andy Fletcher, chief executive of Together for Short Lives, said: "This is a really welcome commitment to invest in children’s hospices at a crucial time.

"We know that the number of children with life-limiting conditions is growing and the care and support they need is increasingly complex. With this complexity comes greater cost, and I am pleased that NHS England has listened to the concerns raised around a growing funding gap."

Tracey Bleakley, chief executive of the umbrella body Hospice UK, said: "I'm really pleased that NHS England has listened to children's hospices and families of children with life-shortening conditions and have given assurances that this much-needed funding increase will go directly to children's hospices, as originally intended."

She said that the services were funded mainly from charitable donations, but with the cost and complexity of care rising "we are seeing children's hospices under increasing threat".

Bleakley said: "Today's announcement will help make sure these children and families continue to get the support they need and deserve."

Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said: "Hospices play a crucial role in providing essential children’s palliative care services, which is why our NHS Long Term Plan will double the contribution made to children’s hospices."

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