Sunday, 14 August 2022

Hospice could move into hospital ‘for right price’

THE Sue Ryder hospice in Nettlebed could move to the Townlands Memorial Hospital in Henley after all.

The charity is planning to sell Joyce Grove, which it has owned for 35 years, because it wants to focus on caring for people at home, saying that is what most patients now want.

But it has been criticised by some patients and families and Henley town councillors, who want the hospice to remain open.

In December 2014 Sue Ryder pulled out of a deal to move to a 12-bed purpose-built unit on the top floor of the new hospital.

However, as building work was already well under way, the hospital was built as planned, so the top floor has remained empty ever since.

Now Sue Ryder has said that it might agree to move in if the price was right.

A spokesman for the charity said: “We are introducing a new hospice at home service designed to enable patients to be cared for in their preferred place which, for the majority of individuals, is home.

“We know that there will always be a need for some patients to be cared for in a hospice setting and we are currently exploring options for future bed provision. This could include revisiting the Townlands site as a possible solution but only if it’s financially viable.”

The issue was raised at a meeting of Henley Town Council last week by Lynn Carter, from Turville Heath, who is appealing to the charity to retain Joyce Grove.

Mrs Carter, 69, who attends day care at the hospice every Tuesday, said: “After the closure there will be no end-of-life care in South Oxfordshire.

“Sue Ryder is telling us that 75 per cent of the people they surveyed said they would rather have end-of-life care at home.

“I disagree with that. I have conducted my own survey and 90 per cent of people surveyed said they would rather have their end-of-life care at Nettlebed.

“It is just appalling to think you have to spend the end of your life at home with your family who will be traumatised by it all.

“At Sue Ryder they take it all out of your hands. The staff are impeccable and you don’t need to worry about mum needing drugs or water, it’s all out of your hands.”

Councillor Ian Reissmann, who chairs the Townlands Steering Group, said having Sue Ryder at the new hospital was the best option and he would try to broker a new agreement between NHS Property Services, which owns the site, and the charity.

He said: “When the new Townlands was built the top floor was set aside for Sue Ryder to move in. It remains unused and empty.

“There will be people who wish to die at home but there are people who don’t. People should have a choice. If that choice is taken away then we are losing out.”

Cllr Reissmann said that the charity had pulled out of the original deal partly because it felt the rent was too high.

“It must be better to use that facility and pay some rent,” he said.

Mrs Carter, who was diagnosed with terminal peritoneal cancer in January 2014, said Sue Ryder could sell Joyce Grove but retain some of its 27 acres of grounds where it could build a purpose-built hospice with money from the sale.

She added: “They are going to sell a beautiful building. If they take it away there is nowhere for people to go and remain with their loved ones.”

Councillor Stefan Gawrysiak said: “The care and service at Sue Ryder is absolutely fantastic. I have personal experience within my family.

“If people want to be cared for at home, Sue Ryder can do an outreach service for that but what the hospice does is take the pressure off the family so when they go and visit they have quality time.”

The Sue Ryder spokesman said: “We know that change can be unsettling but we want to reassure the councillors, the public and local residents that while we develop our plans to grow end-of-life services in South Oxfordshire we will continue to deliver the same well-regarded and respected services from the hospice.

“We can only reiterate that the reason we have decided to sell the Nettlebed hospice, which is not yet on the market and hasn’t been sold, is due to a change in the demand for care.

“Over recent years demand for inpatient and day services at Nettlebed has declined at the same time as demand for our community services has grown.

“A new building within the grounds would not address the occupancy levels or changing needs of our patients.

“Sue Ryder is investing in services in South Oxfordshire and these plans mean that we will be able to provide more care to more people.”

NHS Property Services said it would be happy to talk to any prospective occupier of the top floor at the hospital.

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