Commission studies effect of Compact on hospices

The Commission for the Compact is to investigate the effectiveness of the Compact in the relationship between primary care trusts and hospices.

Charities provide the majority of hospice care, but many voluntary organisations feel PCTs frequently ignore their views.

"Hospices have mentioned anecdotally that they think there is a problem, so we thought it would be a good area to look at," said Ruth Etkind, a policy adviser at the commission. She said the research would discover whether there was any hard evidence to substantiate these claims.

She said the study would also give the commission the opportunity to study more broadly how well non-departmental public bodies observe the Compact. Most research so far has focused on government departments.

The commission will analyse 10 relationships between PCTs and hospices. It will explore what works well, what doesn't and what can be done to improve matters.

The names of the organisations involved will be kept secret. "We want people to tell us exactly why relationships aren't working, and they won't do that if they have to tell us their names," said Etkind.

Jonathan Ellis, director of public policy and parliamentary affairs at Help the Hospices, which represents 200 charity hospices, said the level of adherence to the Compact was variable.

"Hospice provision has always been predominantly delivered by the voluntary sector, so it's a good area to explore," he said.

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Commission for the Compact

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