£50m boost for terminal cancer services

Services for long-term cancer patients have received a £50 million investment boost today following an announcement by Health Secretary John Reid.

A national partnership group, made up of voluntary sector organisations and representatives of the NHS, has allocated the distribution of £50 million across the country for improved care for people with terminal cancer. This funding represents a significant increase in NHS funding for specialist cancer care, which is around 40% above 2000 levels.

The decisions that have been made include investment in: 70 additional consultants in palliative medicine to give more people access to relief from their pain; 162 more clinical nurse specialists to support patients and families at home, hospitals and care homes; additional Marie Curie nurses; and 86 more hospice beds to give patients and families the extra support they need.

Health Secretary John Reid said: "Providing the best possible care for people with cancer is not just about money, it is about using it in the right way to bring relief from pain and allowing people to keep their dignity while fighting the disease.

"The partnerships with the voluntary sector, which have helped with the distribution of this funding, know from first hand experience where the money is most needed and how it can be put to the best use.

Dr Richard Hillier, consultant at St Joseph's Hospice, London, welcomed the announcement.

"Targeted funding to bring good palliative care to all patients and families who need it, wherever they are and to support hospices is precisely what is wanted," he said.

"Already, hospitals, community teams and palliative care services are working more collaboratively. Our challenge at the coalface is to ensure that we deliver. And that is what we shall do."

The funding is in support of the NHS Cancer Plan commitment to invest an extra £50 million in specialist palliative care by 2004. Ministers have now set up a £50 million per annum central budget for specialist palliative care for the three years from 2003-04.


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