End-of-life Care Strategy

Oral Answers to Questions — Health – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 30th March 2010.

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Photo of Sir David Amess Sir David Amess Conservative, Southend West 2:30 pm, 30th March 2010

What plans he has to audit spending on the end-of-life care strategy.

Photo of Phil Hope Phil Hope Minister of State (the East Midlands), Regional Affairs, Minister of State (the East Midlands), Department of Health

We attach great importance to improving end-of-life care. We know that most people would prefer to be cared for in their own homes, which is why in the next Parliament we will bring forward proposals on a right for people to choose to die at home if they wish. In the end-of-life care strategy, we made a commitment to monitor the £286 million of new money we were making available for implementation over 2009-10 and 2010-11. We have asked strategic health authorities and primary care trusts to report by 21 May this year on how they have invested the new money for 2009-10.

Photo of Sir David Amess Sir David Amess Conservative, Southend West

As the Minister may know, during this Parliament I was involved in a meeting on hospice funding with the Prime Minister, during which he praised the hospice movement. Everyone knows that hospices depend on charitable giving and volunteers. In light of that, have the Government made any assessment of the impact of the recession on the hospice network?

Photo of Phil Hope Phil Hope Minister of State (the East Midlands), Regional Affairs, Minister of State (the East Midlands), Department of Health

As the hon. Gentleman rightly suggests, the hospice movement plays a vital role. Many Members have in our constituencies hospices that do an excellent job. That is why the £286 million of additional funding to which I have just referred includes £40 million that is being made available to hospices through a capital fund in 2010-11. I will be making announcements on that soon.

Photo of Mark Todd Mark Todd Labour, South Derbyshire

The all-party group on motor neurone disease conducted an inquiry into end-of-life care that revealed that many primary care trusts have either not been fully utilising the money set aside or have not used it at all for this purpose and have instead taken it entirely for other purposes. Is that also the early evidence from the Minister's inquiries?

Photo of Phil Hope Phil Hope Minister of State (the East Midlands), Regional Affairs, Minister of State (the East Midlands), Department of Health

First, I congratulate my hon. Friend, who has been a long-standing champion in the House for people with motor neurone disease. We are monitoring primary care trusts' expenditure of the £286 million for the reason he suggested. The results of that analysis will be shared with the Public Accounts Committee, included in the end-of-life care strategy second annual report, and published on the Department's website. We are making good progress, but we need to make sure that work is happening on the ground.

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

I rise to ask a question in light of the Government's admission in the past few weeks that, distressingly, only 30 per cent. of the money earmarked for end-of-life care users has reached patients under the Government's end-of-life care strategy, and that, similarly, dementia sufferers have received only a third of the funding pledged under the Government's dementia strategy-let alone the fact that only one quarter of funding under the carers strategy has been received by those for whom it was intended. On behalf of those who have not received their respite breaks, or, indeed, the dignity they deserve, I ask the Minister when he intends to honour his promise not just to have the money properly audited and reported on, but to make sure it is wrung out of the wasteful bureaucracy and put to front-line use, as promised.

Photo of Phil Hope Phil Hope Minister of State (the East Midlands), Regional Affairs, Minister of State (the East Midlands), Department of Health

As the hon. Gentleman knows, we are looking carefully at how primary care trusts and strategic health authorities are spending money at the local level on a variety of important resources and support for patients and carers. I might add that we hope no one will have to monitor what impact the £6 billion a year of cuts the Conservative party announced yesterday would have on local care services throughout the country.

Photo of Rob Marris Rob Marris Labour, Wolverhampton South West

The excellent Compton hospice is headquartered in my constituency and does a fantastic job. One of the things it does is train workers in palliative care. Will my hon. Friend tell me what financial support is available from the Government-it certainly should be-to help with the training of workers who will be doing palliative care?

Photo of Phil Hope Phil Hope Minister of State (the East Midlands), Regional Affairs, Minister of State (the East Midlands), Department of Health

My hon. Friend puts his finger on an important part of how we raise the quality of end-of-life care for people right across the country. Training is one particular issue, but I should add that by working through the Dying Matters coalition, we want to raise public awareness of issues associated with death, dying and bereavement. We not only need the professional training to be right, but need to address the taboo that too often exists in this country about discussing these matters, so that people are encouraged to think about, and plan and prepare for, this period in their life or in the life of a loved one in their family.