Take time to listen to the weakest voices in this election

UK children’s palliative care charity Together for Short Lives has called on the parties contesting the general election to listen to the voices of the 49,000 children with life-limiting and life-threatening conditions (an average of 75 in every constituency) as they finalise their pitches to voters. The call came as the charity set out the policies that it would like the Westminster parties to include in their general election manifestos.

Together for Short Lives acknowledges some positive action to help transform the lives of these seriously ill children in the previous Parliament, including the government’s 2016 end of life choice commitment for children and young people in England. However, the current policy and funding environment has failed to adequately acknowledge these children, the needs of their families, nor those that work tirelessly to support them. The quality of support these children and families receive is largely determined by where they live, not what they need. They are just about managing, but families are reaching breaking point.

Together for Short Lives has set out seven pledges for the parties which would help address the following issues:

  1. Parity and sustainable funding: funding not failing children’s palliative care services.
  2. Disability living allowance: lifting the unfair ‘baby benefit bar’.
  3. Ensuring a further social care crisis is averted by recognising the needs of children now.
  4. Investing in the children’s palliative care nursing workforce to avoid a crisis in support.
  5. Transition: building a bridge over the cliff edge of care between children’s and adult services.
  6. Funerals & bereavement: supporting families when they are most in need.
  7. A holistic approach to children’s palliative care: committing to a people centred approach which joins up services and the work of government departments

Barbara Gelb OBE, Chief Executive of Together for Short Lives, said:

“Very few of the 49,000 children and young people with life-limiting and life-threatening conditions in the UK will be able to vote in this election. They are small in number and have the weakest voice when it comes to influencing the parties’ programme for the next Parliament. Yet they are among those who most need help from the next government, whoever leads it, to achieve the best possible quality of life and end of life. These children do not have time to wait: thousands who need palliative care now will not be alive the next time the UK goes to the polls. Commitments of support in the parties’ manifestos is the very least they deserve.

How you can help

Please forward Together for Short Lives’ manifesto request to the candidates who are contesting your local Parliamentary constituency. You can find out who these people are in your local press and from your local party branches. We have drafted a template message which you can customise into your own letter or email http://bit.ly/TfSLGEtemp. Alternatively, why not attend a local hustings or campaign event and put a question about children’s palliative care directly to the candidates? We have drafted some suggested questions herehttp://bit.ly/GEhustings 

You can download ‘A general election manifesto request on behalf of children and young people with life-limiting and life-threatening conditions from Together for Short Lives’ at http://bit.ly/TfSLGE17.

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