HC Deb 05 February 1991 vol 185 cc152-3
11. Mr. Bowis

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what funds the Government have allocated to the voluntary hospice movement.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley

On 9 January I announced the allocation of an additional £16.96 million to health authorities in England for 1991–92 to enable authorities to increase the support that they give to hospice organisations. Last year that figure was £8 million.

Mr. Bowis

Does my hon. Friend agree that her figures confirm the Government's support for the increasing role that the voluntary hospice movement is playing, alongside the national health service? Will she continue to monitor the costs of that movement, not least when it has to face unexpected costs such as national pay awards, and also when it loses money as a result of decisions taken by local Department of Social Security offices not to recognise voluntary contributions by patients to the running of those hospices?

Mrs. Bottomley

My hon. Friend speaks with authority about hospices, as the Trinity hospice provides a service for many of his constituents. Questions of income support are for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Security—it is not the case that the higher rate is paid for those for whom no charge is made. I understand that his hospice received in the order of £443,000 last year from the health authority and from money made available by central Government. That was a 25 per cent. increase on the help that it received the year before.

Mr. Spearing

Can the Minister confirm that this welcome increase in grants to the hospice movement is partly based on the fact that it covers a wide spectrum of the public potential, and partly because it provides a unique service between hospice and home? Will she also confirm that, due to effects of the hospice upon the statutory service, any additional expenditure saves money elsewhere?

Mrs. Bottomley

I have no doubt that any additional money is providing good value by ensuring a quality service. All of us would want to pay tribute to the voluntary hospice movement and the work that it has undertaken in pioneering a quality service for the dying. The hon. Gentleman is right to identify not only those in hospice beds, but the excellent work achieved by hospices at home. With the rapid expansion in the voluntary hospice movement, it is important to integrate planning, consideration and provision between the voluntary hospice movement and national health service provision. We are proceeding with work to ensure that the two develop in tandem and in a spirit of co-operation.

Mr. Donald Thompson

Is my hon. Friend aware that the voluntary hospice movement is most welcome in all parts of every constituency and that this further help from the Government will be welcomed by the movement?

Mrs. Bottomley

I thank my hon. Friend for endorsing the warm tribute that all of us would want to pay to the hospice movement. The number of hospice beds has doubled in the past 10 years. As well as providing additional funding this year, we have decided to establish a research project into standards of palliative care and have also asked the Standing Medical Advisory Committee and Standing Nursing and Midwifery Advisory Committee to report back on the organisation of hospice care.