Draft plan tackles needs of dying Wigan children

The health and well being board will meet this week
The health and well being board will meet this week

Health chiefs are investigating whether children’s end of life care in the borough needs an overhaul after highlighting major funding gaps.

Members of Wigan Clinical Commissioning Group and Wigan Council are set to discuss the joint health and wellbeing strategy for the next five years.

A report into the borough’s current provisions has listed children’s palliative care as one of the main priorities for the coming few years, with documents outlining a lack of funding.

The review, which is to be discussed at the health and wellbeing board meeting on Wednesday, June 6, states: “Whilst there are fewer child deaths than adult deaths, it has become apparent during the work to develop this strategy that the funding for support for palliative and end of life care for children is not available.

“This work must lead us to understand how support can be delivered to children, families and carers in order to provide the same offer to children and adults in the same situation.”

The CCG has acknowledged that while the number of children needing palliative care is low compared to elderly and terminally ill adults, there may still be a need for an independent budget.

At the moment, the authority commissions a “broad” children’s service which does include palliative and end of life services, but there is nothing in place to specifically provide funds in this area.

The implementation of the new end of life strategy will provide health bosses the opportunity to review current service provision against what is commissioned and see if anything needs to be commissioned differently.

Dr Tim Dalton, local GP and Chair of NHS Wigan Borough CCG, said: “Making sure that children in this borough get the best care possible is an absolute priority for us at the CCG.

“As part of implementing the End of Life strategy, we will carry out a detailed review of children’s and families’ experiences of children’s palliative and end of life care to understand whether we need to commission these services differently in the future.”

Wigan Borough CCG says that its employees are committed to constantly reviewing the commissioning of all end of life services in line with a “positive and patient-focused asset-based approach to health and social services”.

The development and planned implementation of the end of life strategy is focussed on ensuring improved end of life services for all patients and is an opportunity for the authority to identify and develop end of life services driven by the priorities identified by local communities. As part of the draft strategy, figures have also been released into the most common deaths among borough residents.

Between 2014 and 2016, 78 people under the age of 20 died in Wigan. Nearly half of these - 47 per cent - were babies under the age of one.

The figures for adults show that cancer was the underlying cause of death for 41 per cent of women and 34 per cent of men in the borough between 2013 and 2015. It reveals that 28 per cent of men and 18 per cent of women under 75 died of cardiovascular disease.