Published: 13/05/2004, Volume II4, No. 5905 Page 21

I welcome HSJ's interest in the palliative care funding framework, but my evidence to the health select committee has been misunderstood (news, page 10, 29 April).

The impact of payment by results in palliative care will be that the NHS pays the cost of any services voluntary hospices are commissioned to provide on behalf of the NHS, freeing up charitable funds.

High-cost treatments would only be funded from charitable funds if for some reason they were not considered to be an NHS responsibility.

Also, Help the Hospices will not incur additional costs as a result of Agenda for Change. This is because it is the national charity working on behalf of the hospice movement, not a direct healthcare service provider. It is local hospices who may incur increased staffing costs of 10-15 per cent.

We hope that, through our ongoing work with the Department of Health, NHS commissioners and others, we can agree a sustainable funding framework for specialist palliative care, so this increase will not have to be met from charitable funds.

Christine Shaw Acting chief executive Help the Hospices