Palliative Care East dream clears final hurdle

THE path has been cleared for building work to begin on a long-awaited new palliative care centre to help patients with terminal illnesses.

The Palliative Care East team at the James Paget University Hospital cleared the final hurdle last week when the hospital’s board of directors agreed to the �1.5m centre providing pain relief as well as emotional, spiritual and practical support for patients.

A fundraising campaign, started in October 2006 and featured weekly in the Mercury, has so far raised �1.2m towards the cost of the centre, thanks to donations from Great Yarmouth and Waveney residents.

Last month, a report by NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney (NHS GYW) into delivering end-of-life care advocated a resource centre and outreach service at the hospital.

The centre, also funded with NHS GYW money, aims to provide first class care for patients in Yarmouth and Waveney and act as a base for support services delivered in satellite locations, including patients’ home.

Pam Fennet, strategic lead for end-of-life care with NHS GYW, said care would be based around a “hub and spoke” model with the main hub the hospital’s resource centre which will provide information and support services for the terminally ill.

The spokes will be the same services, but in residential areas and neighbourhoods, based at community hospitals and community centres.

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The hospital trust’s chairman John Hemming said: “This is great news on two fronts. We now have the funding to increase care to patients and families needing palliative care both at home and in hospitals – a much-needed service.

“We are also able to start the development and building programme for the new Palliative Care East centre, generously funded by donations from the population of Great Yarmouth and Waveney. We anticipate the remainder of the �1.5m can be raised before the centre is completed.”

Separate plans for a hospice for the terminally ill near Gorleston could face competition from rival bidders as end-of-life care services develop in the Great Yarmouth borough.

Charity East Coast Hospice hopes to build a �3m 10-bed inpatient hospice south of Gorleston near to the A12 where patients would stay while receiving palliative care.

But although the NHS GYW report provided for specialist palliative care beds in the borough, the health authority will be tendering for applications from rival bidders to provide the service.

A spokesman for the hospice, which has fundraising shops in Yarmouth, Gorleston and Lowestoft, did not wish to comment about how fundraising for the hospice was progressing.