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Friday, 28 February 2020
SUE RYDER is to close its hospice in Nettlebed at the end of March.
The charity is now consulting employees who will be affected by the proposal to shut its inpatient unit at Joyce Grove, which it says follows a "thorough assessment" of patient data and costs.
It will continue providing palliative hospice care in patients' homes across South Oxfordshire through its specialist outpatient care hub, which it launched in April 2018.
The charity has intended to shut the facility for some time because of the high costs of maintaining a listed building and running a hospice in premises that weren't built for the purpose.
It costs £3.1 million a year to deliver palliative care services across the district and only a quarter of that comes from statutory funding while the rest comes from donations and fund-raising sales and events.
Sue Ryder says it is becoming increasingly difficult to deliver services from mostly charitable sources and it has a duty to ensure "limited" resources are distributed effectively.
It says more than 70 per cent of people surveyed nationally said they would rather die at home while demand for the charity's outpatient service, named Hospice at Home, is increasing.
It has so far supported 530 patients while referrals to the inpatient unit have decreased, which prompted the charity to halve the amount of beds it offered in April last year.
Inpatient numbers have continued decreasing since then with an average of four people being cared for at a time. The charity says it has consulted referring agencies and is sure this is down to reduced demand.
Despite the decrease in beds, it wasn't able to reduce staffing numbers because of regulations and this made the hospice unviable economically.
The charity says it will work with other organisations that offer inpatient care so that those who need a traditional hospice service can still access one.
If nothing is available in Oxfordshire, patients could be offered a bed at Sue Ryder's Duchess of Kent Hospice in Reading.
A spokeswoman said: "Sue Ryder remains reliant on the generous fundraising support from the community and looks forward to continuing to work in partnership with Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group to ensure the delivery of excellent palliative care in South Oxfordshire."
For the full story and reaction, see Friday's Henley Standard.
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