Thursday, 18 October 2018

Public meeting on hospice sale called ‘inappropriate’

Public meeting on hospice sale called ‘inappropriate’

A PLANNED public meeting on the future of the Sue Ryder hospice in Nettlebed hospice has been labelled inappropriate.

Barbara Lewis, chairwoman of Nettlebed Parish Council, is unhappy with Henley Town Council for agreeing to stage a public forum to discuss the charity’s plans to sell Joyce Grove and its grounds.

Councillors said they had received a large volume of enquiries from members of the public concerned about the future of the hospice and its services and said that it was time to “force the issue”.

Councillor Lewis says her council should have been consulted about the meeting and raised her concerns with David Nimmo Smith, one of Nettlebed’s representatives on South Oxfordshire District Council and a member of the town council.

She said: “While we are all most sympathetic to the concerns of patients and their families that this valued facility may cease to operate in its present form at its present location, it is hardly up to Henley Town Council to step in and take over a debate without the courtesy of consulting Nettlebed Parish Council.

“The Sue Ryder hospice is very important to our community and, as you may know, the parish council has worked tirelessly over the past decade and more to help them manage their three-weekly sales in the village.”

The charity wants to sell the building and focus on caring for people at home, saying that this is what most patients now want.

It says demand for inpatient care has dropped by 12 per cent in the past four years whereas demand for home visits by nurses has trebled.

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

Cllr Lewis said the parish council held regular meetings with the charity, the Nettlebed Estate, the Nettlebed and District Commons Conservators, Thames Valley Police and Oxfordshire County Council’s highways department about managing the sales, which attract hundreds of people.

She added: “Our local involvement and discussions with the Sue Ryder hospice staff are ongoing, which makes the decision of Henley Town Council to take action highly inappropriate.

“Nettlebed Parish Council appreciates that Henley Town Council was involved in negotiations with Sue Ryder Care when the hospice was due to move into Townlands Memorial Hospital in Henley.

“However, when that decision was rescinded in December 2014, Henley Town Council’s direct involvement ceased. While we all share the same concerns for ongoing end-of-life care in our community, a public meeting organised by Henley Town Council is not the way forward.

“And before you ask, no, Nettlebed would not wish to see the Sue Ryder Nettlebed hospice moved. Indeed, we would like to see a smaller hospice built in the adequate grounds.”

Councillor Nimmo Smith said Nettlebed council should be closely involved but added: “Despite what Barbara Lewis says, I think it’s the pubic airing approach should be used because there is a lack of information coming out and when that happens conspiracy theories start running.”

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