Autumn Statement fails families and children who aren’t managing
The Chancellor’s Autumn statement is a missed opportunity to help thousands of families of seriously ill children. These families are not ‘just about managing, they are at breaking point at at a time when the sector faces a year on year decline in statutory funding but an increase in demand and costs for the life line services they provide.
Together for Short Lives had made four proposals to work with Government to address this widening gap between funding and need. Firstly for the Chancellor to increase the value of the children’s hospice grant to reflect the increasing demand for children’s palliative care and the growing complexity of life-limiting and life-threatening conditions. Secondly, to widen support for children’s palliative care charities working in local communities by providing funding for children as well as adult social care.
Thirdly we asked for mobility payments for families of babies and young children under the age of three who depend on bulky medical equipment or who need to stay close to their vehicle in case of a medical emergency. Such payments, unfairly, only begin aged three. And fourthly there was also a vital opportunity for ministers to invest in age and developmentally appropriate services to young people with life-shortening conditions - and which bring about smooth transitions from children’s to adults’ services. There is an overwhelmingly moral and financial case for these investments - reducing both the strain on families and the NHS.
Barbara Gelb OBE, Chief Executive of Together for Short Lives said:
“Across the UK, thousands of families of children with life-limiting and life-threatening conditions are simply not managing. Faced with the demands of providing 24/7 care for their seriously ill children, these families rely on the support offered by children’s palliative care services in hospitals, children’s hospices and in the community.
With the state’s financial contribution to these services failing to keep pace with increasing demand, the Autumn Statement was a golden opportunity to put them on a sustainable footing. Without extra financial support, I fear that more families will now be left to reach breaking point with nowhere to go but our already overstretched emergency services. We look urgently to next year’s Budget with the hope that the Chancellor will tackle these challenges and we will work with parliamentarians to ensure that the needs of children with life-shortening conditions are not forgotten but at the forefront of government policy.