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First hospice beds to go this year in planned closure

Doors will shut in 2016 but cuts start sooner

Pilgrims Hospice chief  executive Steve Auty - 'It was a hugely difficult decision’
Pilgrims Hospice chief
executive Steve Auty – ‘It was a hugely difficult decision’

The closure of beds at Canterbury’s Pilgrims Hospice will start this year—three years before the charity claimed it would. Its chief executive Steve Auty this week revealed three of the centre’s 16 beds would be lost, followed by a further three next year before the complete closure in 2016. He said the decision had been “hugely difficult” but he hoped to explain the reasoning at the public meeting due to be held at Canterbury High School tomorrow (Friday) night. There has been a massive backlash against the plans, with more than 17,250 people signing a petition arid dismayed hospice volunteers forming an action group to challenge the decision. Mr Auty said:

“This is a hugely emotive topic but residents will have a chance to understand how and why we reached this decision, and allow us to address any worries they may have.”

The meeting is being chaired by Canterbury MP Julian Brazier, who has already urged the charity to find another way of keeping the 16 beds open. Mr Auty will be supported by other senior managers and medical staff on the top table.

Sad reality

He said:

“It was a hugely difficult decision. After a series of discussions, meetings and workshops, involving staff and volunteers, we were faced with the sad reality that we could not keep it open without seriously compromising our intention to meet increasing demand by taking more care into all the other settings where people are dying. Taking this very difficult step will also allow us to maintain and expand our day centres, outreach and other services. We will do our utmost to make sure the unit’s closure impacts on as few people as possible. I appreciate that travelling to Ashford or Thanet may be an issue for patients and their families from our Canterbury catchment area. But we will do our best to provide travel and accommodation support where we can. Our doors will always be open to those who have an emotional tie to London Road. We plan to keep the memory path in place, and anyone who wishes to come and visit to remember any family or friends who spent their final days with us will always be welcome.”

The public meeting in Canterbury will start at 7.30pm. To book a place call 017 782064 or email meetingbookings@pilgrimshospices.org.

Herne Bay Gazette, May 29th 2014

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