Catherine ‘delighted’ with children’s hospice commitment

Newcastle North MP, Catherine McKinnell, has warmly welcomed the Government’s confirmation that it plans to increase the Children’s Hospice Grant from £12million a year to £25million a year by 2023/24, following years of campaigning in her capacity as co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Children Who Need Palliative Care.

Only last month – to mark Children’s Hospice Week – the Newcastle MP tabled an Early Day Motion in Parliament, calling for the Government to protect the Children’s Hospice Grant and increase it to £25million.

She also hosted an event in Parliament, alongside the charity Together for Short Lives and APPG co-chair Dr Caroline Johnson MP, to discuss the challenging funding situation currently facing children’s hospices across the country as a result of NHS and local authority funding cuts and the rising costs of providing care.

The Chief Executive of NHS England, Simon Stevens, had announced on 27th December that, over the next five years, up to £7million in additional funding would be made available to children’s hospices each year on top of the existing £12million Children’s Hospice Grant, but only if local Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) also provided additional match funding. However, NHS England subsequently rowed back on this promise in its Long Term Plan, which stated that this additional funding would also be made available to other, non-hospice palliative care services.

Last night, when responding to a debate on children’s palliative care in Parliament, Care Minister Caroline Dinenage MP confirmed that the Children’s Hospice Grant would be increased to £25million – and this would come directly from NHS England, so would not be dependent on match funding from CCGs.

Commenting afterwards, Catherine said:

‘I am absolutely delighted with this announcement, which should put children’s hospices like St Oswald’s in Newcastle on a long-term sustainable footing.

‘It’s come after many years of campaigning by the APPG, by charities such as Together for Short Lives and Hospice UK – but crucially by the families who use children’s hospice services and know how invaluable the support they provide is.

‘As I said during last night’s debate, the hospice services that children receive are often needed not just at the end of their lives, but throughout their lives to give them the best life possible in the time that they have.

‘Children’s hospices must not be left to rely on the ability of local areas to fundraise for them – and last night’s announcement will hopefully mean families no longer being subjected to a postcode lottery at one of the most challenging times imaginable.’