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DH gets £286m for End of Life strategy

Health Secretary, Alan Johnson, has launched the End of Life Care Strategy
Health Secretary, Alan Johnson, has launched the End of Life Care Strategy, being backed by funding of £286m, which will allow more people to die in the comfort of their own home, surrounded by their family and friends.

According to the Department of Health (DoH), the strategy, which follows on from the Lord Darzi review of the NHS, will help the government achieve its 2005 manifesto of doubling the amount of investment in palliative care by 2011. It will make it easier for patients to adopt their own preferences relating to their palliative care, which the DoH says will promote dignity and respect, properly coordinated services and support carers.

"People coming to the end of their lives and their loved ones deserve high-quality, compassionate and dignified care, on their own terms. This strategy will make that happen," said Johnson. "This increased funding will continue momentum for improvement and help make sure that everyone gets access to high quality palliative care."

The End of Life Care Strategy is a 10-year plan that will build on the progress made in developing end of life care services since 2000 and will focus on different areas. One area of focus is improving community service - asking PCTs to ensure rapid response community nursing services are available 24 hours a day, every day.

Extra training will be given to health and social care professionals in assessing the needs of patients and carers so they can provide the best possible care. The DoH will also encourage PCTs and hospices to collaborate in the development of specialist palliative care services in the community.

"We have already made £40m available to hospices to improve environments and provide greater dignity for patients," said Johnson.

Recently, £4.5m has been invested in a new state-of-the-art, Marie Curie hospice in the West Midlands.

The DoH is planning to develop quality standards, based on leads provided by Lord Darzi's Next Stage Review against which PCTs and healthcare providers can assess themselves and be assessed by regulators. In addition, and in a bid to better understand how best to provide palliative care for patients, the DoH intends to set up national 'end of life' research.

16th July 2008

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