Ministers can and must do more to make sure that seriously ill children in England can access palliative care when and where they need it. The call, made by Together for Short Lives, the UK’s leading children’s palliative care charity, follows today’s (15 October) government response to recommendations made by the House of Commons Health Select Committee in its inquiry into palliative and end of life care.
Following a thorough inquiry to which Together for Short Lives contributed both oral and written evidence, the committee called for the government to set out how everyone can access universal, seven-day palliative care if they need it. However, the Government response has not committed sufficiently to any action which would realise this for the 40,000 children and young people in England whose needs are complex and different to those receiving end of life care in adulthood.
Barbara Gelb OBE, Chief Executive, said:
“This is a further example of how the voices of children with life-limiting conditions are not being heard. While I welcome the government’s commitment to ensuring everyone can get the care they need, its response says very little about how children can access palliative care.
“The committee rightly highlighted the huge variation across the country which must be addressed as a matter of urgency. More community children’s nurses must be recruited and trained and more posts created. We also need a transparent and sustainable funding system which recognises the important role the children’s palliative care sector plays in supporting children and families. The government should address these vital issues in the Spending Review by adopting the recommendations we have made in our representation. It is time children’s palliative care was lifted from being a Cinderella service and given the priority it deserves.