Wednesday, 20 October 2021

Patients demand public meeting over hospice sale

Sue Ryder to sell hospice

PATIENTS are calling for a public meeting to be held about the proposed sale of the Sue Ryder hospice in Nettlebed.

The charity plans to put the Grade II listed building on the market as it wants to focus on caring for people at home, saying that is what patients now want.

It has launched a hospice at home service as a pilot and plans to find a new community “hub” while the beds will be relocated, possibly to more than one location.

Sue Ryder says Joyce Grove is costly to maintain and isolated, especially in bad weather, and the facilities are out of date.

Clare Sherriff and Lynne Carter, members of the hospice’s user group, told a meeting of the Townlands Stakeholder Reference Group last week that they wanted a public meeting.

Mrs Sherriff said she wanted an “honest appraisal” from the charity and reassurance that services wouldn’t be broken up as it affected people’s lives.

She said there had been a lot of unrest since Sue Ryder announced the move in February. “People need to know the truth,” she said. “We feel very strongly about it and we need information. We are trying to get a public meeting because we’re concerned.”

Mrs Sherriff said the pilot scheme was running well but she was concerned that in future the beds could be in “disparate” places and that patients would no longer have the hospice as a centre to come together.

Mrs Carter, who was diagnosed with terminal peritoneal cancer in January 2014, has set up a petition opposing the hospice sale.

She attends day care at the hospice every Tuesday, when patients can spend time with specialist nurses, counsellors and physiotherapists and take part in alternative therapies and group activities.

She said that a community hub was “essential”.

Mrs Carter, from Turville Heath, said: “It’s no good having a bed in Wallingford and a bed in Didcot. We need at least 12 beds where we can be together.” Councillor Ian Reissmann, who chairs the Townlands Steering Group, said he believed that eight beds may be provided under a new model but these would be split up, so the “institutional advantages” of them being in one place would be lost.

Cllr Reissmann said: “It’s clear there’s plenty of information that the community can be provided with. In an information vacuum, people fear the worst.

“The way in which Sue Ryder is providing care at Joyce Grove is valued by the community and there’s a concern that the service will be broken up, not just across Oxfordshire but also Reading and Berkshire as well.”

Julia Stackhouse, consultation manager for the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said it was planning to review all contracts with its end-of-life care providers, including Sue Ryder, and couldn’t commit to a public meeting.

But patient representative Robert Aitken said there couldn’t be a meeting without the commissioning group, adding: “We seem to be completely up in the air in terms of timescale of what Sue Ryder is talking about.”

Janet Waters, of the Bell Surgery patient participation group, said: “I would urge Sue Ryder to have or arrange a public meeting. We know people feel extremely passionate because it’s a charity many of us have supported for many, many years. You have only to read the letters in the Henley Standard.”

Group chairman Roger Dickinson said: “I think such a meeting should be held but organising it should come from the community side.”

Sue Ryder turned down an opportunity to move to the new Townlands Memorial Hospital complex in Henley.

The hospice had been due to move into a new purpose-built 12-bed facility on the second floor of the hospital to form part of a £16 million “health campus”.

But in December 2014, before construction had begun, the charity pulled out of the agreement with the NHS, saying it would have needed another property for its other services and outpatients.

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