A HOSPICE chief who last week announced the temporary suspension of inpatient unit admissions is to hit the road for a series of public consultation sessions.
Val Stangoe said that a shortage of senior doctors in palliative care had forced the senior team at St Mary’s Hospice in Ulverston to make the difficult decision.
Now she is preparing to travel across south Cumbria to engage with supporters of the hospice and answer any questions they may have as part of the #saveourbeds campaign.
Val confirmed again that St Mary’s Hospice itself is not closing – with its vital services continuing through an expanded Hospice at Home team and onsite therapies and support available as usual from its buildings in Ulverston and Barrow.
She added: “The response and support has been quite overwhelming since we announced the temporary suspension of admissions to our inpatient beds.
“Of course there was a great deal of shock when we made the announcement, but our staff have rallied and as a team we are determined to do everything in our power to find the right doctor for this role.
“We have so much support in the communities we serve that I think it is only right I spend time chatting with, and answering any questions from, members of the public who have an interest in the hospice.
“I really look forward to hearing what they have to say, and would urge as many people as possible to get involved.”
Sessions will be held in Ulverston, Barrow, Grange, Dalton, Millom, Windermere and Coniston.
There will also be a live question and answer session on social media platforms for people who are unable to make any of the sessions.
The hospice has been trying to recruit a senior doctor in palliative care since May to cover a temporary vacancy, so it could offer continuity of care when a member of the team leaves in October.
But despite its best efforts, the role remains unfilled, meaning the hospice will not have the medical expertise it needs to provide round-the-clock care to inpatients.
From Monday, September 9, and for an initial period of three months, inpatients will no longer be accepted at the hospice’s In-Patient Unit (IPU).
The hospice is working with staff across the NHS to identify how patients will be supported instead, and is keen to continue to be involved in the care of patients wherever they are.
The hospice will also enhance its Hospice at Home service during this period, enabling more people to be cared for in their homes, while all other services remain open, as does the Orangery Cafe and hospice buildings.
Meanwhile, the senior management team will shortly launch a fresh bid to recruit to the position with a national advertising campaign targeting professional publications, and a targeted digital campaign.
Said Val: “We are planning with a renewed sense of purpose. So many people have shown their support, which is fantastic. But we need that person to come forward who can help us to deliver the level of care required by guidelines to reopen our inpatient beds.”
The dates, times and locations of the public sessions are as follows:
Grange Library: 2pm – 3pm Friday, September 20
Ulverston, The Coronation Hall Ante Room: 3pm – 4pm Monday September 23
Dalton Community Centre: 2pm – 3pm Tuesday, September 24
Barrow, The Forum: 12.30pm – 2pm Wednesday, September 25
Millom Library: 11am to 12 noon Friday, September 27
Windermere Library: 10.30am – 11.30am Monday, October 7
Coniston, The Institute: 3pm – 4pm Thursday, October 10
A live social media session will be held across Twitter, Facebook and Linked-in. Date and time to be confirmed.