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EDITIONS
 Monday, 30 December, 2002, 04:43 GMT
Care boost for terminally ill
Nurse helps patient
It is hoped the money will improve specialist care
A 50m funding package to improve care for the terminally ill will help patients live and die in the place of their choice, the government has said.

It is hoped the money will also help improve the support given to families and carers during the final stages of illness and after bereavement.

The palliative care package, to be outlined by health minister Hazel Blears on Monday, was drawn up after the National Council for Hospice and Palliative Care Services criticised existing funding arrangements.

It said that hardly any of the money set aside under the National Cancer Plan in June 2000 to reduce inequalities of access to care had actually found its way to hospices.

Central pot

The money will be ring-fenced to pay for palliative care at a time when many hospices find themselves hundreds of thousands of pounds in the red.

These arrangements acknowledge the vital role of the voluntary sector in delivering specialist palliative care services

Francis Plowden National Council for Hospice and Specialist Palliative Care Services
Ms Blears said a central pot of money exclusively for specialist palliative care would be available for three years from 2003-4.

It will be allocated by an organisation including representatives of the NHS and the voluntary sector.

Ms Blears said: "Delivering the best possible range and quality of palliative care services for patients is about providing the right care at the right time in the right place.

"This new funding arrangement will ensure more patients are able to live and die in the place of their choice, and better support for carers and their families during the final illness and bereavement."

It is also intended to increase the number of hospice beds, specialist Marie Curie nurses and community health teams.

'Vital role'

National Cancer Director, Professor Mike Richards, wrote to NHS managers to alert them to concerns that hospices were not benefiting from extra investment.

He said: "These new arrangements will ensure that the 50m pledge is more than met.

"The national partnership groups continued role in making sure that the money is invested where it is most needed, will also mean that the NHS and voluntary sector continue to work together at both a national and local level."

Francis Plowden, chairman of the National Council for Hospice and Specialist Palliative Care Services, said: "These arrangements acknowledge the vital role of the voluntary sector in delivering specialist palliative care services."

  WATCH/LISTEN
  ON THIS STORY
  Public health minister Hazel Blears
"It's nearly a 40% increase in the contribution that the NHS makes at the moment"
  Chief executive of St Ann's hospice Terry McDonnell
"The original 50m seemed to dissipate within the NHS"
See also:

17 Jul 02 | Health
19 Mar 02 | Health
06 Feb 02 | Wales
24 May 01 | Health
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