Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Council to call public meeting on hospice

Sue Ryder to sell hospice

A PUBLIC meeting about the proposed sale of the Sue Ryder hospice in Nettlebed is set to be convened by Henley Town Council.

The authority’s town and community committee has voted to stage a gathering where residents can express concerns about the charity’s plans to put the Grade II listed building at Joyce Grove on the market.

Representatives from the organisation will be invited to attend but the discussions will go ahead even if they do not and feedback will be passed on afterwards.

At a committee meeting on Tuesday last week, members expressed frustration that Sue Ryder had only offered to deliver an update on its plans in private when asked to talk about them in public.

They argued it was time to “force the issue” as councillors are receiving a large volume of enquiries from members of the public who are concerned about the future of the service.

The charity says it wants to focus on caring for people at home as this is what most patients now want. Demand for inpatient care has dropped by 12 per cent in the past four years while demand for home visits by nurses has trebled.

It says its current premises, which were built as a private mansion in 1908 and became a hospice in 1979, are isolated and costly to maintain.

It launched a “hospice at home” service as a pilot earlier this year and ultimately plans to find a new “hub” within the community. The beds are to be relocated, possibly to more than one location.

Councillor Ian Reissmann said: “We’ve been promised a private meeting in September but are trying to persuade Sue Ryder that telling people what’s going on is always better than an information vacuum and are making slow progress.”

Councillor Sam Evans replied: “This is too big an issue to let it slide for months and it really grates on me. We need a public meeting, and soon. It is our responsibility to force this issue.”

Councillor Lorraine Hillier said: “I have people approaching me on a daily basis about this. We have to acknowledge that and give people a platform to speak.”

A date and venue for the public meeting are yet to be confirmed. The decision must be ratified by the full council.

A Sue Ryder spokesman said: “We are fully committed to keeping patients, volunteers, colleagues and our local community informed as and when we have any updates to share.

“We are confident that by changing our model of service we can extend the care that we are so well known for to provide more care for more people.”

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