A cash-strapped hospice that cares for terminally ill children and young adults could be handed a financial boost from Oxfordshire’s healthcare provider for the first time.
The much-loved Helen & Douglas House, our charity of the year, could receive £100,000 a year from the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group – but it would not be enough to reverse the impending closure of one of its facilities.
Instead the East Oxford hospice, which says its needs around £115,000 more to provide the level of support it should, would use the cash to support Helen House which provides palliative care for terminally ill children.
Representatives from Helen & Douglas House and the OCCG met earlier this month after more than 48,000 people signed a petition to secure government funding.
Speaking at a special debate in the House of Commons, Oxford West and Abingdon MP Layla Moran raised concerns over July’s closure of Douglas House, which provides adult services, and how the hospice receives no support from the OCCG.
The Lib Dem said: “This is an incredibly important matter – Helen House was the world’s first children’s hospice, founding the children’s hospice movement across the world.
“The sort of care provided there is world class and one of a kind. I’m sorry to say those services are under threat.”
Clare Periton, chief executive of Helen & Douglas House, welcomed Ms Moran’s support and confirmed ‘initial productive’ discussions with the OCCG had taken place.
She added: “Sadly this extra funding will not stop the in-patient function of Douglas House closing at the end of July but it will help our plans to ensure Helen & Douglas House continues to provide vital care to local families with terminally ill children and young people.”
The OCCG told this newspaper that Helen & Douglas House was able to bid for contracts.
In a statement, a spokesperson said: “The OCCG keeps all palliative care services under review and Helen & Douglas House can bid for contracts.
“OCCG is keen to look at a more collaborative approach to end-of-life commissioning. This would involve groups of organisations getting together to provide care and would help to support smaller providers, like Helen & Douglas House.
“OCCG is keen to pilot collaborative working with Helen & Douglas House and has offered £100,000 a year for a project to work with the OCCG and providers to look at the palliative care pathway for children.”