HC Deb 30 January 2002 vol 379 cc426-7W
Mr. Reed

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what recent discussions he has had with the Children's Hospice Movement about their funding from the NHS; and if he will make a statement. [28515]

(2) what guidance he plans to give to primary care trusts about purchasing care from children's hospices; and if he will make a statement. [28516]

Yvette Cooper

I have not been in recent discussion with the Children's Hospice Movement, however officials in the Department maintain a line of communication with the Association of Children's Hospices, particularly but not exclusively on the subject of funding. This includes the role to be played by the New Opportunities Fund which, later this year, will invite applications for finance in support of projects to assist children with life threatening illnesses.

Funding available from primary care trusts for services provided by children's hospices is subject to local negotiation. Guidance was issued in February 1998, "Evaluation of the Pilot Project Programme for Children with Life Threatening Illnesses" which addresses the range of options available including hospice care. Regional offices of the Department have been asked to work with health professionals and agencies to identify current service provision and any gaps in this provision, with a view to obtaining a better strategic fit.

As we develop the National Service Framework (NSF) for children we will consider the needs of disabled children, including those whose disability is sadly of a life threatening nature and for whom respite care at a children's hospice is the option of choice. Francine Bates, chief executive of Contact-A-Family, is chairing the Disabled Child Working Group, one of six working groups which are developing detailed advice on the content of the NSF.