Sunday, August 30, 2009

We need more hospice facilities not fewer!

Pat Simmons letter (‘Its not sentimental, but practical to keep hospice’, Open Lines, Friday August 28) was absolutely spot on – and was also very moving. Wanting to keep a fantastic facility like St Peter’s Hospice open in Knowle is indeed about practicalities not sentiment. As Pat points out the location of St Peter’s enabled easy and fast access for her (it has done for many over the years). We need more of such facilities not fewer. I’m afraid we cannot currently regard health provision in Britain as fully ‘cradle to grave’ - but this is what we need.

Like Pat I’m also very puzzled by the sudden-ness and speed of the decision. It was announced in the media and now we are, very sadly, already close to the point of complete closure. Little or no broad-based consultation was, as far as I am aware, sought or undertaken by those taking the decision at St Peter’s – yet they are funded by public donations and do receive large sums for some of their work from the NHS.

Despite a very well supported petition ( ) and public meeting on the matter there is no sign of them changing their minds or even delaying to re-examine their options and talk properly with the wider community and with elected representatives about funding, keeping the Knowle facility open or establishing an alternative locally.

It strange to me that no fundraising campaign was launched. I cannot understand how a building relatively recently refurbished - in the late 1990’s I think – now needs so much spent on it. Was the refurbishment badly done? Has planned maintenance not be properly carried out?

I very strongly support getting away from ever-larger, more centralised institutions. I thought St Peter’s supported this thinking. However, it does not look this way now and South Bristol, lacking in health facilities already, may lose a valuable asset. If it can be established and widely agreed that the Knowle site is too big an annual drain on resources why not invest the considerable income that would result from the sale of the site in a new local facility?

I worry that this may well be a case of ‘you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til its gone’.

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