THE Sue Ryder Care hospice at Nettlebed is planning to relocate to the new Townlands hospital site in Henley.
The charity is in talks with NHS Oxfordshire Primary Care Trust to use new facilities to be built in the grounds of Townlands.
It would mark the end of 32 years of Sue Ryder’s owner-ship of Joyce Grove, which was once the home of the James Bond author Ian Fleming.
Before the Second World War it was bought by the Government which used the building to train nurses. After the war the running costs became too expensive, so the building was put up for sale and was bought by Lady Ryder. The charity says the move would enable it to provide the best possible specialist palliative care to people from Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire in the “best possible environment”.
Sue Ryder has joined the PCT in the development of the Townlands site, which will include an 18-bed community hospital and a 45-bed residential home as well as a new 12-bed Sue Ryder hospice.
Heather Aldridge, Sue Ryder’s palliative care services manager at Nettlebed, said: “Although my heart is at Joyce Grove it is clear that we need to move. It will be heart-wrenching to leave Net-tlebed and it has been a real privilege to work here with all the history it has. However we all acknowledge that it is no longer suitable for the job we do and I am really excited about the possible move to Henley.
“At Nettlebed we are not on a bus route and during bad weather it can be very difficult for relatives to visit to see their loved ones.
“Those who are very ill and need to visit the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading do not enjoy an ambulance journey. At Townlands the facilities will be readily available. Our proposed move is all about putting patients at the centre of everything we do.”
Paul Woodward, chief executive officer of Sue Ryder, said: “We’re excited at the prospect of being involved in the development of the Townlands site. While our Nettlebed building is undoubtedly beautiful and much-loved by patients and the local community, as well as by our staff and volunteers, it is extremely expensive to maintain. It is also isolated, particularly in bad weather, and our facilities there are becoming out of date.
“The level of care we give at Nettlebed is extremely high which is down to the excellent skills and dedication of our staff. However, we are sure a move to the Townlands site in Henley would improve the patient and family experience as we would be able to offer some of the best facilities available including en-suite private rooms and easier access.
“Being located with other health and social care services on the Townlands site would mean that together we would offer an integrated care delivery never before seen in the area.
“The UK is entering an age of personalised care and this move would keep us at the forefront of service innovation in the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire area, and we are delighted with this opportunity to improve our care facilities.”
As well as providing in-patient facilities at the new hospice, Sue Ryder plans to provide out-patient clinics, day therapy services, psychological, spiritual and bereavement care, a community specialist palliative care team and a wide range of allied health and social care professionals.
The charity says it also hopes to further develop its specialist palliative care services, introducing new services where possible.
Matthew Tait, chief executive of the NHS Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire said: “One of the main objectives for the Townlands scheme is to bring together health and social care services on a campus that is accessible and serves the town and surrounding community of Henley as well as ensuring it meets their changing health and social care needs into the future.
“Bringing the different Sue Ryder services into the development will help achieve this for local people.”
Avril Keating, 75, who was the first matron at the hospice, says that although it is sad about the move, it makes sense. “It was a daunting task setting up Sue Ryder at Nettlebed because it is such a vast building,” she said.
“Moving into a purpose-made building would mean that all the money collected by fund-raising would not have to be spent on heating the building. It is important to keep everyone warm but the fuel bills were enormous.
“Also being based in Henley means that visitors can take a break and walk into town and maybe enjoy a meal. As long as the ethos is there, the same caring, and quality of nursing will carry on wherever the hospice is based.”
Joyce Grove is a Jacobethan style house built in 1908 with red brick and Bath stone dressing and once had 44 bed-rooms.
Robert Fleming, Ian Fleming’s grandfather, bought the Joyce Grove estate in 1903. It included 2,000 acres, cottages, kilns and clayworks. The house was built five years later. Ian’s brother, Peter Fleming, donated the house to St. Mary’s Hospital, Paddington, in 1940 for use as a convalescent home.
It was bought by Lady Ryder for use as a hospice in 1979.The future of the 103-year-old building...
The new Townlands hospital, which will cost up to £8.7 million is due to open in the spring of 2013 and will have 60 beds.
The move means that the hospice’s regular sales will have to find a new home. Mrs Aldridge said: “The sales are a wonderful fund-raiser. We will not be able to continue at the new site so it is important that we find a new location.”
Anyone who can offer a new location for the sales can contact Mrs Aldrige on (01491) 641384.