Child Care :: New way forward for children’s palliative care

Health Minister Ivan Lewis promised a new national strategy for children’s palliative care and accepted key recommendations of the independent review of services published.

The independent review of children’s and young people’s palliative care services by Professor Sir Alan Craft, Head of Child Health at Newcastle University and Sue Killen, a senior civil servant, examined access to services and their long term sustainability.

The review was set up in June 2006 after the Government announced an additional ?27 million of support for children’s hospices over three years.

Professor Sir Alan Craft and Sue Killen said:

“Over the last few months, we have examined all aspects around the delivery of children’s palliative care. Whilst we have found many cases of excellent care and practice, we have also discovered areas where services were inadequate and where there is far too wide a variation in standards and expectations. Overall the review found a lack of sustainable funding and strategic planning and unacceptable variations in the provision of services and levels of spending.”

Welcoming the report, Health Minister, Ivan Lewis said that the Government would give thorough consideration to the individual recommendations and their implications for children and young people and would publish a detailed response in the Summer that takes into account any recommendations from the HMT/DfES review of disabled children to be published in the near future. Ivan Lewis said:

“We need to deliver a system that is fit for the future and provides the right care in the right place at the right time for our sick and life-limited children. I am setting up a group of key stakeholders to deliver on the recommendations that can be taken forward immediately, including the development of a national strategy for children’s palliative care by the end of 2007.

“I very much hope those invited will accept the offer to work with the Government to help achieve the step-change we all desire.”

Recommendations from the review include:

– a call for a national strategy dealing with children’s and young people’s palliative care, including development of a national indicators and standards.

– more funding to be provided for services as a whole.

– incentives to be given to developing pooled budgets covering health, social care and education in order to ensure that money is spent as effectively as possible

– more investment in community services and and improved end of life care with more children supported to die at home.

There are over 20,000 children and young people in England with conditions likely to require palliative care and around 4,000 deaths a year. About 1800 a year potentially require end-of-life care at home or in a hospice. Many primary care trusts will be dealing with small numbers, ranging from 39 to 501 people aged under 19 who require palliative care.

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