Demelza's CEO calls on government to commit to increase funding for children's hospices

19 June 2019

Demelza’s Chief Executive, Ryan Campbell CBE, is calling on the government to guarantee more funding for children’s hospices across the country during Children’s Hospice Week.

On Tuesday 18 June, The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on children’s palliative care hosted a drop-in session to mark Children’s Hospice Week 2019 which is running until Sunday 23 June. MPs, Peers and non-Parliamentarians dropped in throughout the day to hear from children’s hospice Chief Executives, including Ryan Campbell, bereaved parents and representatives from NHS England on how the current funding system is impacting on the delivery of children’s hospice services.

In his address to the group, Ryan stressed the need for government to address the difficulties with continuing to raise funds faced by hospices up and down the country, with an ever-increasing demand for children’s palliative care services.

“The fundraising activity has to be continual. Demelza are very, very fortunate in Kent and the rest of the areas that we serve that people are very generous – we only exist because of that generosity really.

We don’t hope to be here forever; we need to be here forever, because the number of children with terminal conditions is quite rapidly increasing because of those advances in medical science. That’s a great thing, but unfortunately the funding within the health service to manage the level of need that’s there isn’t keeping pace, so that’s where we have to step in really, and we can only do that with the support of everyone out there who helps us get the money in.”

Between 1 and 2pm, Dr Caroline Johnson MP and Catherine McKinnell MP chaired a round table discussion to learn in greater detail about NHS plans for future funding.  The drop-in session continued throughout the afternoon, with visits from, among others, Caroline Dinenage, Minister of State for Social Care, Rehman Chishti MP for Gillingham and Rainham and Roger Gale MP for North Thanet. Leading figures from children’s hospices asked government to work with them on a long-term solution. Speaking to Nicola from KentOnline, Ryan explained the core reason behind their campaign for greater funding:

“In the latest NHS England Long Term Plan they have made a commitment to increase funding for children’s palliative care, but that’s only to £25 million across the whole of the country and none of that is allocated specifically to children’s hospices. Although £25 million sounds like a lot of money, actually when you divide that up across the whole of the NHS local authorities and hospices, it really isn’t very much at all. There is certainly some listening going on from some parliamentarians and some people in government but what we’re not yet seeing is this commitment to ‘Yes - the need is there, yes – the need is increasing, yes – children’s hospices cannot be expected to fund forever an increasing rate what they’re currently doing’.”

Earlier this week, HRH The Duchess of Cambridge has sent a Royal message of support to celebrate & mark Children’s Hospice Week. She described children’s hospices as ‘vital sanctuaries for those experiencing the very toughest of times’ and ‘a lifeline to children and families for however long support is needed’. You can read her full letter on Together for Short Lives’ website here.

To listen to Ryan’s full interview, visit KentOnline.