NHS lottery aid doubles to £300m

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Lottery money is to be used to help the families of children suffering from cancer.

Lottery money is to be used to help the families of children suffering from cancer.

The children will be provided with specialist hospice care for short periods so that their families can take a break from looking after them.

The health service is now to get a total of £300m from the lottery New Opportunities Fund, equivalent to the cost of two new NHS hospitals. Some of the cash, to be spent over the next three years, will build on the care provided by Diana Children's community nurse teams to provide hospice respite breaks for families with terminally ill children.

The Culture Secretary, Chris Smith, will announce tomorrow that the sums going into health from the lottery will be doubled from £150m.

The Health Secretary, Alan Milburn, will use the extra cash to support schemes for reducing coronary heart disease and strokes, helping children who are terminally ill, and on cancer-care equipment.

The Government set up the New Opportunities Fund to channel lottery money into health, education and the environment. It promised that the money would be additional to the sums already allocated from general taxation.

A total of £150m from lottery funding is already channelled into the NHS through the fund. When they were in office, the Tories were wary of being criticised for using lottery money to support the health service, and opposed Labour's move.

The Culture Secretary will visit the Royal Free Hospital tomorrow to see one of the first lottery-funded cancer scanners in operation to highlight the benefits to the NHS of using lottery funding. He will later challenge the Conservatives during Culture questions in the Commons to say whether they would scrap the New Opportunities Fund if they won the next general election.

Ministers are adamant that the sums taken from the lottery are being used to supplement local fund-raising for the NHS. Money for combating coronary heart disease and strokes will be used on anti-smoking campaigns and initiatives to persuade more people to eat fruit and vegetables.

There could also be money from the lottery to provide more electric heart stimulators, called defibrillators, in public places and doctors' surgeries, together with training in their use on heart-attack victims.