HL Deb 22 February 1988 vol 493 cc929-30
Baroness Lane-Fox

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assistance they intend to provide to the London Lighthouse centre which provides help and hospice care to people suffering from AIDS.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health and Social Security (Lord Skelmersdale)

My Lords, the Government have approved two capital grants to London Lighthouse, totalling £1.25 million. We have also given a £100,000 grant towards running costs this year. We are considering with Lighthouse and the four Thames regional health authorities the revenue funding requirements for the coming financial year.

Baroness Lane-Fox

My Lords, in thanking my noble friend for that rather satisfactory Answer, perhaps I may ask him to tell the House whether most of the existing hospices are prepared to treat patients suffering from AIDS.

Lord Skelmersdale

My Lords, we have no information that hospices are not prepared to provide resting places for people suffering from AIDS. However, hospices are not the only places where people are likely to die. For example, I understand only 9 per cent. of cancer patients die in hospices.

Lord Kilmarnock

My Lords, is it not the case that the last and final stages of AIDS make it rather difficult for AIDS patients to be treated in normal hospices? Are the Government thinking about the likely increase of patients and the further support which will be needed for this type of initiative?

Lord Skelmersdale

Yes, my Lords, but, as I have just said, not necessarily within the context of hospices. We have no intention of establishing dedicated AIDS hospice provision through the voluntary bodies.

Lord Ennals

My Lords, while I warmly welcome the support announced by the Minister for Lighthouse and the point just raised by the noble Lord, Lord Kilmarnock, perhaps I may ask whether there is any form of government support for those who, for the reasons stated by the noble Lord, Lord Kilmarnock, are more likely to have their last weeks and months at home rather than in a hospice. The noble Lord will remember that I tried to do something about that in the Social Security Bill. I wonder whether the Government have some thought of help which could be given to those people during their last sad weks.

Lord Skelmersdale

My Lords, there is no system of formal support along the lines the noble Lord, Lord Ennals, has mentioned. However, we give large amounts of extra money to the health services in order to carry out that support which is necessary.

Baroness Masham of Ilton

My Lords, is the Minister aware that the hospice for AIDS at Mildmay Mission Hospital will be taking its first patients tomorrow? Would he let the House know who will be paying for their contractual beds?

Lord Skelmersdale

My Lords, I was aware that Mildmay Mission Hospital was taking its first patients tomorrow. As regards funding, all the hospice movement is operated on revenue financed by contributions both from ordinary people through voluntary donations and also through the good auspices of the health authorities.

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