Hospices Get £50m Upgrade Money

The government is making £50m available to help refurbish hospices as part of its push to improve palliative care. Marie Curie Cancer Care will receive £10m, with other hospices in England free to bid for a slice of the rest. Ministers said the cash could be used for existing services, but not to build new hospices, over the next two years.

It comes after the government has been criticised for standards of end of life services. Campaigners said the pot was welcome, but care was still too poor.

The government said the money was targeted at refurbishment and modernisation of bedrooms, dining rooms, common spaces and hospice grounds.

Health Minister Rosie Winterton said: “When you are ill your surroundings are so important to your general well-being.

“Every patient wants, and deserves, to be cared for in the best facilities possible.

“This money will be directly benefiting patients and will improve the services and care they receive in hospices, as part of our continuing commitment to improve the end of life care services very ill patients receive.”

Hospices are mainly run by charities and the voluntary sector in England, although there are several NHS services.

David Praill, chief executive of Help the Hospices, said the money would help hospices carry out their “tremendous work in caring for people facing the end of their lives”.

Earlier this year, Dying Well, a cross-party group of MPs, said people should be given better care at the end of their lives.

It said too many of the 850,000 people who die each year were not given the gold standard.

Jonathan Ellis, senior policy manager at Help the Aged, said: “End of life care services are in dire need of improvement and this money will go some way to provide better care for those who spend their final days in a hospice.

“Unfortunately, many older people do not have the choice about where they die, and we would like to see much more money investment and attention paid to providing good quality end of life care in hospitals, care homes, and people’s own homes.

“Death is an unavoidable issue – but what is avoidable is the undignified and impersonal way in which many older people die in this country.

“Too often, the idea that people ‘die from old age’ means that they are not receiving the care and support, or the opportunities to make choices they would like in their final years.”