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NHS to have legal duty to commission palliative care 

News and comment

A new legal duty on the NHS in England to plan and fund palliative care has moved a step closer following peers’ decision to add a key government amendment to the Health and Care Bill last night.

Lord Kamall’s amendment was debated by peers on Tuesday evening (1 Match) and subsequently added to the Health and Care Bill. The amendment means that a new legal duty will be placed on integrated care boards (ICBs) to commission palliative care for people of all ages, including children and young people.

Together for Short Lives briefed peers ahead of the debate and asked them to pass of this amendment. We also asked the minister to further clarify how integrated care boards will implement the requirements set out in the amendment.

Liberal Democrat health and social care spokesperson Baroness Brinton asked the minister how the Department of Health and Social Care will ensure that ICBs commission palliative care services for seriously ill children and their families.

Welcoming the amendment when it was tabled last week, Andy Fletcher, Chief Executive at Together for Short Lives said “This is good news for seriously ill children, their families and the professionals and services who provide children’s palliative care. The extent to which children and their families can access the palliative care they need, when and where they need it, is very patchy and depends on where they live. I am grateful to ministers for listening to them.

“The government should now make sure that integrated care boards have the resources they need to meet this duty. It is also vital that hospital teams, community services and children’s hospices, provided by the NHS and voluntary sector, are given access to the finance and the workforce they need to deliver high standard of palliative care that seriously ill children and their families should expect.”

Find out more about the bill, read all the amendments tabled by peers here, or find out more about what the amendment means for people who require palliative care here.

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