Children's Palliative Care/Hospice Services

Oral Answers to Questions — Health – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 24th July 2007.

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Photo of Bob Spink Bob Spink Member, Science and Technology Committee 2:30 pm, 24th July 2007

What recent representations he has received on the funding of children's palliative care and children's hospices.

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Photo of Ivan Lewis Ivan Lewis Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health) (Care Services)

The Department has received 22 representations on the funding of children's palliative care and children's hospices in the past six months.

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Photo of Bob Spink Bob Spink Member, Science and Technology Committee

I know that the Under-Secretary will join me in paying the warmest possible tribute to those who work in and volunteer for children's palliative care. I am grateful to the former Prime Minister for his personal help in getting the £27 million stop-gap funding and the review of funding for children's hospices.

The Association for Children's Palliative Care and the Association of Children's Hospices want children's palliative care services to be included in the national indicator for disabled children that is currently being developed as part of the public service agreements for the next comprehensive spending review. Will the Under-Secretary delight the House by saying today that he will consider that suggestion favourably? [Interruption.]

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Photo of Ivan Lewis Ivan Lewis Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health) (Care Services)

As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State says, I always delight the House. It is a good sign when the Secretary of State says that, but I am not sure whether any other hon. Members would agree. Although I might delight the House with such a commitment, it could be a seriously career-limiting announcement. Of course, decisions about PSAs will be made in the context of our comprehensive spending review settlement. However, the £27 million that we have made available, the independent review that we have commissioned and our commitment to publish a national strategy on palliative care for children, alongside the significant investment in supporting disabled children and their families, mean that the specific needs of palliative care for children will have a high priority in the period ahead.

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Photo of Stephen O'Brien Stephen O'Brien Shadow Minister (Health)

To be realistic, given that the Government have broken their promise and failed to fulfil their manifesto commitment to double investment for palliative care, broken the former Chancellor's compact with the voluntary sector by using charitable gifts to subsidise NHS care, broken their promise to implement payment by results for palliative care and continue to insult children's hospices by funding them at 4.5 per cent. compared with 32 per cent. for adult hospices, will the Under-Secretary now steal and implement our policies of equal funding for children's hospices and a national tariff for palliative care?

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Photo of Ivan Lewis Ivan Lewis Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health) (Care Services)

The problem with the hon. Gentleman's point is that the Conservative party makes all sorts of uncosted spending commitments while simultaneously suggesting that it will cut taxes if it ever returns to power. That is an entirely disingenuous position. When the Conservative party was in power, hospices were expected to depend far more heavily on charitable donations. The Government have started to make significant state investment available for hospices for the first time, including a recent major capital investment. There is much more to do, but we will take no lessons from the Conservative party on hospice funding.

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