Big increase in cancer care cash

More terminally-ill cancer patients and their carers in East Anglia are to benefit from round-the-clock care in their homes after a dramatic increase in government funding.

More terminally-ill cancer patients and their carers in East Anglia are to benefit from round-the-clock care in their homes after a dramatic increase in government funding.

The work of Marie Curie Cancer Care in Norfolk and Suffolk has received some of the biggest NHS funding increases in the country, leaping in to six figures for the first time after increases in the region of a staggering 962pc.

The cash boost is part of a £15m NHS allocation to Marie Curie nursing services across the UK to help the charity offer its care and support to a greater number of patients in their final days.

Primary care trusts commission Marie Curie and match-fund the cash generated by the charity, which will total an extra £279,286 in the area covered by Yarmouth and Waveney PCT - an increase of 962pc on last year, when it received about £29,000.

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NHS Norfolk, formerly Norfolk PCT, was unable to confirm its extra payout last night but it is believed to amount to one of the largest increases in the country and will be in the region of £340,000.

The uncertainty surrounding the final figure means it is unclear what this could mean to patients in Norfolk, but the Yarmouth and Waveney boost will allow the charity to pay for 12,000 hours of care in that area.

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NHS trusts across the UK will invest an extra £3.8m in Marie Curie this year, giving more than 21,500 terminally ill people the choice to die at home, surrounded by their loved ones.

It follows the publication last week of Lord Darzi's Next Stage Review, which for the first time recognises end of life care as a priority, and coincides with the 60th birthdays of both the charity and the NHS.

Alison Taylor, deputy director of commissioning at Yarmouth and Waveney PCT, said: “The trust's End of Life care strategy values care closer to home, for the benefit of patients.

“Marie Curie nurses play a vital role giving terminally ill people the support they need at home.

“The PCT has been working successfully with the charity for a number of years, and we look forward to offering more of their nursing services to patients through extra investment this financial year.”

Wendy Hardicker, assistant director of collaborative commissioning at NHS Norfolk, said the figure released on behalf of the charity had not been confirmed but “significant work is underway for end of life care”.

Thomas Hughes-Hallett, Marie Curie Cancer Care's chief executive, said: “Marie Curie Cancer Care is encouraged to see end of life care being given the recognition it deserves. Most people want to die at home and Marie Curie Cancer Care has demonstrated that it is possible to double the number of people supported to spend their final days at home - at no extra cost to the government.”

Richard Hanson, of Norwich, has experienced the care and support that Marie Curie nursing can offer during an unbearably traumatic time.

His wife, Maja Ivanovic, was 40 when she died in October last year, three months after being diagnosed with skin cancer.

He said that the charity had given him the gift of a good night's sleep as well as the comfort of expert care and understanding.

“They are incredibly helpful people - they go in to anybody's house, regardless. I found it helpful talking to them, and they had a great understanding of the situation. The nurse who came to sit with Maja on the last night made me feel very calm in a situation where my wife was about to die. It was very comforting to have someone like her around.”

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