We are developing a new patient funding system for all providers of palliative care. It will be fair and transparent and deliver better outcomes for patients and better value for the NHS. Just last week, I announced that we are investing £1.8 million in eight pilot sites to help us in that work. Marie Curie Cancer Care is also providing £2.5 million of funding to support those pilots. The new system will be in place by 2015.
I thank the Secretary of State. Does he agree that current state funding for end-of-life and palliative care provision is at best patchy across the country and needs to be improved? Will he outline the role that he sees for voluntary and charitable organisations in the delivery of improved palliative and end-of-life care in future?
My hon. Friend will know very well of the vital role that the voluntary sector already plays, whether through the hospice movement or through Marie Curie and other voluntary organisations. As he implies, we not only want to secure more consistent, high-quality end-of-life care, to which effect we are already implementing the end-of-life care strategy and the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence quality standard for end-of-life care, but through the implementation of the palliative care funding review pilot schemes we want to ensure that the voluntary sector and other providers are equally able to provide the services that patients and their families desire.
For both end-of-life care and social care more generally, the Budget was a real missed opportunity, in that the Government did not signal what they were going to do about the future funding of social care. Will the Secretary of State now update us on the discussions that he has had with the Treasury about what will be done about the gap in the future funding of social care?
On the contrary, the Chancellor set out very clearly his intention that a White Paper on the reform of social care would be published in the spring. The hon. Lady may wish to know that we are in direct discussions with the Opposition to seek consensus about the long-term reform of social care funding.