Aldous calls for fair funding settlement for end-of-life care

Waveney MP Peter Aldous called for a fairer funding settlement for end-of-life care in the Great Yarmouth and Waveney area in a Debate in the House of Commons on 28th June, secured by Brandon Lewis, MP for Great Yarmouth.

Mr Aldous argued that Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth include pockets of extreme deprivation and a high percentage of elderly residents. The area also experiences a significant influx of holidaymakers in the summer months which puts additional pressures on health-care resources.

Aldous pressed Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Anne Milton over a lack of funding and shortage of hospice provision in Waveney, noting that in Waveney only 0.1 per cent of people die in hospices compared to 5.2 per cent in England as a whole.

During the debate, the Minister, Anne Milton, accepted Therese Coffey’s invitation to visit the East of England in the coming months to understand this issues raised in the Debate first hand.


Peter Aldous (Waveney) (Con): It is a pleasure to speak under your chairmanship, Mr Walker. I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Great Yarmouth (Brandon Lewis) for securing this debate on a topic of such importance to our two constituencies, and to the northern part of the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Suffolk Coastal (Dr Coffey).

My hon. Friend the Member for Great Yarmouth has set the scene admirably. I shall make a few observations based on my own finding and experiences in the past year representing Waveney and over the past 40 years as a resident of the area. I will outline five distinctive health features in the area that place a burden on the NHS generally and on end-of-life care more specifically.

First, Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth include pockets of extreme deprivation which are not immediately apparent to those with only a passing knowledge of Suffolk and Norfolk. Secondly, a high percentage of the population is elderly; the East Anglian coast has long been a popular retirement area. I do not begrudge people moving into the area—in fact, I welcome them—but the Government must recognise that they are an added financial cost for those providing health services, and that must be reflected in the funds made available. Thirdly, the influx of holidaymakers in the summer months is an added pressure. I well remember visiting my father in James Paget hospital some 10 years ago and observing that many of those in his ward were not local to the area.

My fourth point, with regard to where people die in the Great Yarmouth and Waveney area, is the limited hospice provision. In England as a whole, 5.2% of people die in a hospice, but in our area only 0.1% do. In the west of the Waveney constituency, those in the Bungay area are well served by the excellent All Hallows hospital at Ditchingham, but there is a glaring lack of a similar facility in the Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft area. East Coast Hospice, of which my hon. Friend the Member for Great Yarmouth and I are both patrons, is determined to redress the balance, as he said. It has a lot of work to do, however, and it is vital for the Government to ensure an environment and climate giving it every assistance and encouragement as it sets about its task.

Finally, despite the lack of facilities in the area, we have a tremendous community spirit, with many voluntary groups and charities doing all that they can to provide services and to raise funds. As well as All Hallows and East Coast Hospice, we have Waveney Hospice Care, which is merging with the St Elizabeth hospice, and does great work providing day care. Palliative Care East has reached its target for providing day care and support for those using the James Paget hospital, and East Coast Truckers continues its sterling efforts to raise funds for East Anglian Children’s Hospices.

Moving on, I will outline three areas of end-of-life care in which we must do better. First, as I mentioned, more hospice care is needed—my hon. Friend set that out clearly. Secondly, linked to that, is the urgent requirement for more respite beds, so that carers can get away for a much-needed break. Last Friday, I was with Crossroads Care, which reinforced that point.

Dr Thérèse Coffey (Suffolk Coastal) (Con): I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Great Yarmouth on securing the debate and my hon. Friend the Member for Waveney (Peter Aldous) on his contribution. Does he agree that, although we do not have the range of choice, we ought to pay tribute to places such as Patrick Stead hospital in Halesworth, which manages to provide some respite care but could easily provide more if the funding were available?

Peter Aldous: I agree entirely. The Patrick Stead is my local hospital, so I also endorse its excellent work.

The third area is the need for the provision of 24/7, around-the-clock community care, which must be a priority. It could provide people with the option to spend their last days in their own homes, with their families and friends, which so many people wish to do. My father, who died last year, died in hospital and not at home. For my mother, who cared for him in the last few months of his life, the availability of such a service would have made her job as a carer that much easier.

In conclusion, what am I looking for from the Government? I want two things: first, a fairer funding settlement, to address the needs that I have outlined briefly; and, secondly, a system or framework that enables the voluntary and charitable sector to work with and flourish alongside the NHS. The Department of Health tends to differentiate only between the NHS and private providers, but the third sector must not be forgotten and it must be set free to flourish without the bureaucracy that currently bears down on hospices and carers.

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Peter holds regular surgeries at various locations in the constituency. Please call 01502 586568 to make an appointment.

Next Surgeries - 2018: 
Lowestoft, Wednesday 8th August



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