Peer points to lack of children's palliative care resources

RCN research highlights inadequacy of end of life care for children

An RCN survey that found almost a third of children’s nurses said they lacked confidence to discuss end of life issues with children was cited in a House of Lords debate on palliative care.

Labour peer Lord Howarth highlighted the care of children with terminal illnesses, telling the upper house that the RCN survey found a third of children’s nurses said they did not have the resources to give adequate care in the home. He was speaking during the second reading of the Access to Palliative Care Bill.

The peer said clinical commissioning groups contribute 10% to the cost of children’s hospices, compared to 30% of adult centres' costs. In addition, 35% of children’s hospices' funding was frozen between 2013 and 2015.

Crossbencher Baroness Finlay explained the purpose of the Bill is ‘to ensure wherever a dying person is, whatever the time of day or night, whatever day of the week, they can receive high-standard care’ and that this would be achieved ‘by ensuring commissioners commission a level of service for their populations to meet need.’

She added: ‘Why legislate for this and not for other services? Simply because everyone will die, no other area of healthcare has 100% certainty.’

The Bill will now pass to the committee stage, where a detailed examination of it takes place, ahead of report stage and a final reading before it moves to the House of Commons for MPs to scrutinise.

Seven charities who united to form the End of Life Care Coalition have urged the government to commit £130 million – £30 million for NHS and £100 million for social care – to palliative care at the next comprehensive spending review.

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