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Volume 401: debated on Wednesday 19 March 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make it his policy to provide funding for hospices. [100357]

In the NHS Cancer Plan, published in September 2000, we pledged that the national health service contribution to the costs of specialist palliative care, including hospices, would increase by £50 million by 2004.To enable faster progress towards this commitment we have made available an extra £10 million from central budgets for specialist palliative care for 2002–03. We have also set up a central budget of £50 million per annum exclusively for specialist palliative care, for three years from 2003–04. Local plans are being developed by cancer networks around the country to determine on the appropriate deployment of those resources to support services according to local needs. This represents a significant increase nearly 40 per cent. in the NHS funding of specialist palliative care services. The £50 million is for specialist palliative care services in their entirety and not for voluntary hospices alone, though, as they play an essential role and provide two thirds of all specialist palliative care, it is reasonable to expect they will get a fair slice of this extra money. Further information is available on the Department's website at: 03 06.htm.