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19.12.12

Hospices threatened by regulations

The NHS reforms could be threatening hospice care by increasing the burden posed on carers by regulation, the former Tory leader Lord Howard has warned in his role as chairman of the Help the Hospices charity.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt is expected to meet with Lord Howard to discuss his concerns.

Under the NHS reforms, it is feared that regulations on hospices could increase, causing difficulties in getting funding for people who want help from hospices so they can die at home. Hospices may soon come under the remit of Monitor, which could represent another layer of regulation.

Lord Howard said: “I am sure that nobody in the Government wanted the changes, which are very well-intentioned, to have any adverse impact on hospices at all.”

Dr Ros Taylor, chief executive of St Francis Hospice in Hertfordshire, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that instead of the three core principles of clinical care, finances and internal governance when she joined the hospice movement, there were now more than 200 regulatory policies she had to take account of.

She said: “My concern is that hospice care is based on close engagement with patients.

“The more our nurses, doctors and social workers have to spend filling in forms and phoning and faxing, that is less time with patients. We perhaps need a ‘ministry of common sense’ to look at that.”

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