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Monday, 17 June, 2002, 11:26 GMT 12:26 UK
Hospices 'failing to secure funding'
Nurse at a hospice
Cash-strapped hospices have had to cut nursing staff
Hospices have received only a small fraction of 50m they have been promised by the government, a report says.

The survey by the National Council for Hospice and Specialist Palliative Care Services suggests hardly any of the money included in the NHS Cancer Plan has been delivered to hospices.


The government won't face up to its responsibility to provide care for the dying

Dr Evan Harris
Researchers could trace only 4m of the pledged 50m - with little more spending on hospices apparently planned in 2002/3.

The report concluded that much of the additional funding promised for cancer services, including palliative care, has been diverted by into other services.

Research carried out by the BBC last year found more than half the voluntary hospices in England and Wales were facing severe financial problems

Peter Tebbit, of the National Council, told BBC News Online that without additional funding the hospice movement might struggle to provide services to all patients who required them.

He said: "Just 28% of the costs of voluntary hospices are met by the NHS, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to bridge the gap through charitable donations. There are some units that are having to cut back."

Liberal Democrat health spokesman Dr Evan Harris said: "Our charities have created a world-leading service for dying patients.

"But hospices are in financial crisis, because the government won't face up to its responsibility to provide care for the dying.

"Charities already provide over half the funding for hospices. The extra 50m from the NHS Cancer Plan would have at least struck a balance between the state and the voluntary sector.

"But that money was spent on other priorities."

No guidance

The Lib Dem say that the problem centres on the failure of the government to provide central guidance to Primary Care Trusts, the local NHS bodies charged with providing care for terminally ill patients, on how much money should be spent on palliative care.

They have called on the Department of Health to establish a process that would ensure that funding pledged to palliative care actually reaches hospices.

The Department of Health said that the government's national cancer director, Professor Mike Richards, wrote to NHS managers last month to highlight concerns that some hospices did not appear to be benefiting fully from the extra 50m allocated.

Dr Richards reminded them that the Government's intention was that the extra investment should have been made by 2004, and that it expected to see year by year progress on that target.

See also:

27 Jan 01 | Health
23 Aug 00 | Health
24 May 01 | Health
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