The government must fund, not fail lifeline care for children like Ella who died too young

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Children's hospices still need your support

Dear Friend 

Thank you so much for being one of the 6,670 people who signed Together for Short Lives’ #fundnotfail petition in Summer 2018. Your voice has been vital in helping to press the government to take action on NHS funding for palliative care services for seriously ill children in England. As a result, some important progress has been made in the past 12 months.  
 
However, there is more to do, which is why I am asking for your help again now. Please sign this open letter from bereaved parent Gabriella Walker to ask Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England, to honour his children’s hospice funding commitment and increase the Children’s Hospice Grant to £25million. 
 
If you are able to do more, please write to your MP using our online template to ask them to attend an important House of Commons debate on this issue on 1 July. 
 
Since our petition (which I delivered to Number 10 Downing Street in September last year), NHS England announced that, over the next five years, up to £7million additional funding would be made available to children’s hospices each year on top of the existing £11million Children’s Hospice Grant, if local NHS organisations also provide additional match funding. However, NHS England subsequently rowed back on this promise in its Long Term Plan. This stated that the additional funding will also be available to other, non-hospice palliative care services.  
 
This was later confirmed by the Prime Minister in Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday 19 June. While NHS England has increased the grant to £12million for 2019/20, the Prime Minister refused to commit to continuing it exclusively to children’s hospices beyond this year. While non-hospice services are also vital, children’s hospices are facing a dangerous cocktail of rising costs and falling NHS funding.  
 
Last week, Together for Short Lives published ‘Statutory Funding for Children’s Hospice and Palliative Care Charities in England’. This sets out how, worryingly, NHS and local council funding for children’s hospices in England is patchy and unsustainable. In the two years between 2016/17 and 2018/19, the funding each children’s hospice charity received from local NHS clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) reduced on average by more than £7,000 – a 2% cut from £371,303 to £364,076. 15% of children’s hospice charities receive nothing at all from their CCGs. The money that each children’s hospice has to spend each year to meet the needs of seriously ill children and their families has grown to an average of £3,681,442 – a 4.5% increase between 2016/17 and 2018/19, faster than the rate of inflation. This combination of falling CCG funding and increasing costs is hitting our most vulnerable children and their families: a fifth (19%) of children’s hospice charities are cutting vital short breaks for respite.  
 
Please do sign Gabriella’s letter today. Thank you once again for your support for seriously ill children, their families and the lifeline services that provide them with palliative care.  
 
Best wishes 
 
Andy Fletcher 
Chief Executive 
Together for Short Lives 

Together for Short Lives
2 years ago