Adult voluntary sector hospices in England receive, on average, about a third of their running costs from the NHS. Although this amount varies for individual hospices and it is a locally commissioned service, the level of funding has remained broadly stable.
I delighted that my right hon. Friend is back on the Front Bench. He will know that hospices up and down the country, such as Willen hospice in Milton Keynes, do a marvellous job in caring for terminally ill patients and their families, yet they have an annual struggle to raise money from local communities to support their work. Will he assure me that he will do all he can to maximise the direct funding that hospices receive from the NHS?
I thank my hon. Friend for raising this subject. He is absolutely right: Willen hospice in his constituency, next door to mine, has an excellent reputation, as does St John’s hospice in Moggerhanger in my constituency. We are all indebted to hospices for the invaluable work they do. I am sure that he and the House will be interested to hear that, from April, there will be pilot projects working on a new funding formula for palliative care, with the aim of providing a fair and transparent process and improvements. I expect that there will be a report to the House in due course.
Does the Minister agree that there is a deeper ongoing problem in the financing of hospices? Kirkwood hospice in my constituency faces it all the time. Is it not about time we tackled long term the roots of the problem of funding hospices?
That is probably tied into the whole issue of end-of-life care. A review of that is going on, as the hon. Gentleman may be aware. End-of-life care is important. Choices for people about where they wish to end their days is very important, and the Choice review which reported recently, whose recommendations the Government are considering, will make further progress. Hospice funding is part of that, but we expect local commissioners to take notice of what hospices can provide for those in their area.