COMMUNICATIONS NEWS: Hospice charity to petition Blair with letters campaign

A delegation of hospice patients, carers, and nurses will visit Downing Street tomorrow in an attempt to convince the Government to fund the voluntary-hospice sector.

Two middle-aged and teenaged hospice patients will hand over more than 250 letters to Tony Blair from patients and carers.

Many people are unaware that the voluntary sector pays for 80 per cent of in-patient hospice care and, in many cases, NHS grants do not meet the costs of nurses and doctors' salaries. Help the Hospices is running a letter-writing and media campaign to help raise public awareness of the issue.

For the first time, hospice patients who took part in the letter-writing campaign were asked if they would be willing to do media interviews to raise awareness.

All 180 independent voluntary hospices across the UK have been encouraged to contact their local media to raise awareness about the state of underfunding.

Only £4 million of the £50 million promised for palliative care under the Cancer Plan two years ago has been allocated. Help the Hospices wants the Department of Health to channel this money into the voluntary hospice sector.

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