Report confirms postcode lottery in palliative care planning
Together for Short Lives has welcomed the publication of a crucial new research paper that shows the number and needs of people who need palliative care are poorly understood by commissioners.
The report, published in BMJ Supportive and Palliative Care, found that only a third of clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) held information about the number of people with palliative care needs in their community. CCGs are the bodies responsible for planning health services for local areas in England.
The co-authors of the paper - Baroness Finlay and Harriet Lancaster – also found that the provision of palliative care in England is patchy and inconsistent. This mirrors the findings of Together for Short Lives’ commissioning maps of England, published in 2016, which found huge variation in the planning and funding of children’s palliative care services. We found that:
- A quarter of CCGs do not commission short breaks for children with life-limiting and life-threatening conditions.
- Seven CCGs refuse to commission children’s palliative care charities because they are charities.
- Over a quarter of CCGs do not commission out of hours community children’s nursing teams, which care for children in their own home.
Responding to the new research paper Barbara Gelb OBE, Chief Executive of Together for Short Lives said:
“This report confirms that many commissioners are still failing to properly plan and fund palliative care for those who need it in their community, including children. One of the major barriers to this is a lack of data – how can commissioners effectively plan services for children and young people with life-limiting and life-threatening conditions if no one know where they are?
Our own research has shown enormous differences in the services that are provided for children with life-limiting and life-threatening conditions across England. For this postcode lottery to end, commissioners must first grasp the palliative care needs of their community.
Together for Short Lives is here to make sure that all children who need palliative care receive the support they need – where and when they need it. We want to work with government and with CCGs across England to help them realise this ambition”.