Forfar hospice charity Lippen Care has said clarity and communication over local palliative care provision is vital for the community after the shock temporary closure of the Clova ward at the town’s Whitehills health centre.
Low patient numbers led NHS Tayside to temporarily merge the ward with an adjacent medicine for the elderly ward in August on the basis of an “operational decision”, but the move has been called into question by a local MP and led to concerns within the charity it was not informed of the plan.
A spokesperson said: “We were concerned that Strathmore Hospice was closed with no notice after considerable effort was made to raise the money needed to provide this vital local service.
“While we are pleased that the closure was only temporary, it is vital that NHS Tayside provide clarity on the future of the hospice in order to reassure residents about the future of palliative care in the community”.
The group emphasised that Lippen Care has no jurisdiction over admissions to the Strathmore Hospice or access to information regarding requests for hospice care.
Lippen Care said it was told by NHS Tayside on August 11 the Strathmore hospice was closed following the transfer of two patients from Clova to Isla ward at the facility.
The spokesperson added:“Lippen Care continue to be concerned over the low up-take of hospice rooms in recent months and have shared these concerns with NHS Tayside staff.
“However, please be assured that Lippen Care has, and will, continue to support and develop all the palliative care services in the Strathmore Hospice, Clova and Isla Wards as well as in the local community.
“Sincere letters of gratitude have been received from families who have spent time in the hospice, expressing their appreciation for their care and attention of all involved in making a sad time a little easier.
“As stakeholders, we would hope to be included in consultations but have been given no information regarding dates up to this time.”
Lippen Care was established to fund and equip the hospice and continues to invest in a range of equipment, as well as funding a post for a palliative care project worker to lead the design and development of a palliative and end of life strategy in Angus.
Angus MP Kirstene Hair said she was concerned by the temporary closure and sought assurances it was not a move designed to reduce occupancy and justify possible closure.
Gail Smith, head of community health and care services for Angus Health and Social Care Partnership said the “routine” action was taken due to low demand.
“We work closely with our colleagues from Lippen Care and staff were informed of the decision to temporarily merge the wards and that the situation would continue to be reviewed.”