Highlighting importance of short breaks

Together for Short Lives was recently invited to send a representative to an informal, private discussion for voluntary sector organisations, with the House of Commons Health Committee. This was held at Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust and was part of the Committee’s inquiry into the implications of the Comprehensive Spending Review for Health and Social Care.

Together for Short Lives received the invitation as one of the organisations that had submitted written evidence to the committee. The written submission had pointed out the implications for children with palliative care needs of the cuts in funding for social care, possibly exacerbated by the focus on adult social care, including the 2% ring fenced council tax precept.

The 18 voluntary organisations, at the discussion, had a varied, but mostly adult, background. I attended on behalf of Together for Short Lives. The committee were told about the effect the cuts were having on adult social services, the impact that the living wage would have on budgets, and the insecurity caused by short term contracts, often renewed at the last minute by Local Authorities.

I raised the issue of cuts to children’s services - including short breaks, and that they are not covered by the precept. I emphasised how important short breaks were to the parents, siblings and the children with very complex and palliative care needs, whether the break was for a matter of hours or days, and the role hospices and charities play in trying to fill the gap in provision but with limited funding.

The committee later heard evidence from statutory sectors such as Local Authorities, and representatives of Devolution Manchester in open sessions. The committee reminded them several times of the importance of working with the voluntary sector. Together for Short Lives will follow up the event by sending another written statement to the committee and the committee will publish its report before the summer.

Jane Houghton is Practice and Service Development Manager (Professional Engagement) at Together for Short Lives

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