Cameron to keep hospice funding

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Indy Politics

David Cameron yesterday pledged extra money for the care of terminally ill children.

The Conservative leader, whose eldest son Ivan died this year aged six, committed his party to preserving a £10m-a-year government grant for children's hospices that is due to end in March 2011.

He warned that families with sick children would be coping with the "worry of an uncertain future" in the New Year because of the threat to the money.

He also promised an overhaul of the funding of hospices, which currently rely on a mixture of NHS support and charitable donations, and the help that families are given to enable their relatives to die at home.

A Conservative government would introduce a new system of funding linked to patient numbers to enable hospices to plan ahead more confidently, Mr Cameron said.

During a visit to a hospice in Loughborough, he said: "Anyone who goes to a children's hospice is always blown away by what they do. But when you've seen it at the sharp end yourself as a parent, it makes it even more meaningful."

Ivan Cameron was born with cerebral palsy and a rare form of epilepsy and required constant attention.

The announcement was welcomed as "such valuable news" by the X Factor judge Simon Cowell, who is patron of the charity Children's Hospices UK.

"It will hopefully give some peace of mind to the hospices themselves and the many families who really need them," Mr Cowell said.