Last week (Friday 23rd October), peers debated Baroness Finlay’s Access to Palliative Care Bill in the House of Lords.
Together for Short Lives briefed peers on the importance of including children, young people and their families in the debate and called on them to ensure the Bill, which affects only England. Our full briefing is available online.
At the beginning of the debate, Lord Crisp stated that it is “important that there is some reference to the particular and specific needs of children when we talk about palliative care” and many peers subsequently made reference to the needs of children and young people and the obstacles faced by the children’s palliative care sector.
Lord Howarth of Newport said that he had “received the briefing from the admirable charity, Together for Short Lives” and was aware of the differences between children’s and adults’ palliative care as for the former it “may be needed for the whole of a child’s life.”
Expanding on this, Lord Howarth discussed the workforce challenges affecting the sector, describing a “dearth of people with the skills and knowledge to care for children who suffer from complex and life-threatening conditions“. This was echoed by the Lord Bishop of Carlisle, who said that “palliative care for children has often been neglected in the past, and some major children’s hospitals still have no palliative care team.”
It is encouraging to hear that peers are aware of the unique challenges affecting the children’s palliative care sector and the distinct nature of children’s palliative care. Too often the voices of children and young people are neglected during discussions around palliative care and this was a promising step towards making sure that their voices are heard and that any new legislation supports their needs.Shaun Walsh, Director of External Affairs
Several peers spoke of the funding issues identified in our recent survey of hospices. Lord Maclennan of Rogart reflected on the “extensive and thoughtful briefing from the charity Together for Short Lives” and relayed that nearly a quarter of children’s hospices have seen their funding cut in the past year.
Shaun Walsh, Director of External Affairs, said:
“It is encouraging to hear that peers are aware of the unique challenges affecting the children’s palliative care sector and the distinct nature of children’s palliative care. Too often the voices of children and young people are neglected during discussions around palliative care and this was a promising step towards making sure that their voices are heard and that any new legislation supports their needs.
We engaged with many peers in the build–up to this debate and are grateful that so many of them raised our concerns during the debate. We will be meeting with peers as the Bill proceeds to committee stage to make sure that the final Bill supports children, young people and their families.”
The Bill proceeded to the next stage in the House of Lords, known as the ‘committee stage’. At this stage, peers will table amendments before finalising the wording of the Bill, which will then be voted on before being passed through to the House of Commons. It must then pass through the Commons before becoming law.
Together for Short Lives will be meeting with peers in the run-up to the committee stage to ensure that amendments are made to the Bill to ensure that it supports and improves children’s palliative care provision in England. Speaking about the briefing he had received form Together Short Lives, Lord Howard of Lympne reported that the charity “has asked for some amendments to the Bill which no doubt we will return to and which I hope will receive sympathetic consideration when we get to Committee stage.”
The committee stage for the Bill is yet to be scheduled. When it is announced, it will be reported from the Together for Short Lives policy Twitter account and we will update our members with any developments.