West Cornwall MP Derek Thomas has used the experiences of his own mother to make a passionate appeal in Parliament for greater support for the hospice movement.
Mr Thomas spoke of how, following a very long illness and after being given just a few weeks to live, his mother spent 10 days at St Julia’s Hospice, Hayle and then lived for a further seven months because of the care she received.
He said the hospice movement in Cornwall was “fantastic”, offering a different experience for patients to those in an urgent care setting, adding that after every visit to the hospice, he left with “an incredible sense of gratitude” for the work they do.
“In Cornwall, we are learning that hospices are not just about taking people in the closing days or months of their lives, but about alleviating pressure on urgent care by taking people out of a ward where it is not really appropriate for them to be in their last few days, and on community care,” he said.
“I am learning that hospices are actually far from just being places to die. People can go into when they are very sick and come out a week or two later, having had various things done to help them, to get their body working again and to identify the right medicine.”
However Mr Thomas also called for greater efforts to integrate their work and services with the rest of the health system and for greater funding to support their work.
He argued that there was spare capacity at the hospice which could be utilised and called for greater funding of hospices – figures indicated that only around 11% of funding of hospices in Cornwall came from the NHS.
“The point is that, by properly funding hospices and all the work they do, I am convinced that we would create a saving for the wider NHS as well as the beds that are needed for other people.
“The frustration is that there is a desperate need for beds in the hospital, but in the hospice, beds are available all the time. It is simply about a lack of commissioning joined-up thinking and working together, and not having enough money in the hospice system.”