Parents of long-term sick children to be consulted on financial support plans

Parents of long-term sick children in hospital are to be consulted on proposals which could see them receive financial support.

The Government has committed to establishing a stakeholder forum of parents, charities and healthcare professionals to “understand their concerns, listen to ideas and suggestions”.

Work and pensions minister Jo Churchill (pictured) said she wanted to “help families going through these difficult times”.

This comes as a result of a private member’s Bill put forward by Conservative former minister Sir Oliver Heald.

In presenting the Bill, Sir Oliver spoke of his North East Hertfordshire constituents Ceri and Frances Menai-Davis, whose son Hugh died aged six after being diagnosed with cancer of the abdomen.

Sir Oliver said the couple, who were in the public gallery for the Bill’s second reading, want parents visiting their long-term sick children to have mental, physical and financial support.

On Friday, Ms Churchill told the Commons: “I stand here as somebody who has had cancer more than once, you don’t choose it, it chooses you.

“As Ceri and Frances know, your world is turned upside down, your days are driven by medical appointments, a need to have questions answered, juggling life’s issues, alongside wanting to do anything to try and protect your child, and make the pain go away.

“(Sir Oliver) has spoken to me about Ceri and Frances’ motivation to do something for those parents who have also travelled the journey of their child having an extended period in hospital and some of the worries this brings financially, emotionally and physically.”

She added: “We want to help families going through these difficult times, I would like to commit from the despatch box to work closely with my right honourable friend on this important issue.

“In particular we are committing to establishing a stakeholder forum in order to consult with parents whose children have received care in hospital for an extended period, to consult with healthcare professionals and charities and civil society and organisations offering support in the area.

“We want to hear people’s experiences, understand their concerns, listen to ideas and suggestions, then develop a set of potential proposals based on the feedback.

“I would like to suggest that a meeting is arranged with my office at the earliest opportunity so that Ceri and Frances’ knowledge can help drive and determine who will be key to that consultation.

“I will personally ensure the forum is established in a timely manner and progresses quicker than a legislative group would allow.”

Sir Oliver said he was “delighted” by the Government’s response and withdrew his Bill so that the plans for the stakeholder forum could progress.

Mr and Mrs Menai-Davis have set up a charity called It’s Never You which helps to alleviate parents with children facing prolonged hospital stays of the financial strain.

Sir Oliver said: “Through my constituents’ charity, parents or guardians of sick children benefit by connecting with a community of peers finding support, moral support, sharing experiences and getting professionally sourced and reliable information through a social network.”

Copyright (c) PA Media Ltd. 2024, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) X / Twitter.