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Children’s Hospices

Volume 654: debated on Tuesday 19 February 2019

5. What steps he is taking to improve the provision of care and support to children and their families in children’s hospices. (909304)

In December, NHS England announced plans to increase funding for children’s palliative care services to as much as £25 million a year over the next five years through match funding investment from clinical commissioning groups.

St Andrew’s children’s hospice, based in Grimsby, which serves my constituency and the wider Lincolnshire area, is greatly valued and much treasured by the local community. Will the Minister clarify exactly how the funding will be delivered and how St Andrew’s can benefit?

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for mentioning his local hospice. We all have wonderful stories about the fantastic care delivered by hospices, particularly children’s hospices, in our local area. NHS England will match fund clinical commissioning groups that commit to increase their investment in all children’s palliative and end-of-life care services by up to £7 million a year by 2023-24. This, added to the children’s hospice grant, which is currently £11 million a year, could therefore more than double NHS support to a combined total of £25 million.

But the fact is that, even with those significant investments, most children’s hospices will still be reliant almost exclusively on fundraising and philanthropic donations. Does the Minister agree that, for there to be a proper footing for children’s hospices, there needs to be a much quicker move towards significant support from the state for these important facilities?

The hon. Gentleman talks about how children’s hospices, and indeed hospices, have traditionally been funded, but what we are looking at is an incredible commitment by NHS England to the value that hospices, and particularly children’s hospices, deliver not only in end-of-life and palliative care, but in respite care breaks and the immensely valuable outreach services that so many of them offer.

Will the Minister join me in thanking the Donna Louise children’s hospice for its hard work in my constituency—it does incredible work—and in welcoming the new facility for young adults that it is hoping to open in the spring?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right to raise this. When children’s hospices expand and include facilities for young adults, it can make such an immeasurable difference in their local area. In my area, the Naomi House children’s hospice has opened Jacksplace, which has been such a valuable resource. Hospices should be incredibly celebrated for all such facilities they offer.

Will the Minister take this opportunity to guarantee that the £11 million children’s hospice grant will be protected for children’s hospices, and indeed further increased as a result of the long-term plan to reflect the growing demand and the complexity of care provided by these lifetime services?

Yes. I think this is a really strong signal to clinical commissioning groups about how the NHS values the services provided by children’s hospices—not just end-of-life and palliative care, as I say, but the other respite and outreach services they provide. That is why giving them access to up to £25 million will make an immeasurable difference.