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Published: 00:00, 13 June 2014 |
Updated: 18:22, 13 June 2014
The Pilgrims Hospice's inpatient centre in Canterbury WILL stay open, charity chiefs announced today.
In a stunning u-turn, chairman of the charity’s board of trustees, Dr Richard Morey, said: "We have listened to the clearly expressed views of local people and recognise the desire for a change of emphasis in our plans – as long as these can be staffed and funded.
"Over the summer months, the hospice will keep you updated about its plans and how people can help.
"We are planning to do this through the media, our website and meetings with supporter groups.
"Please give us the time, patience and understanding that we now need to establish how we can achieve our common aim of maintaining beds in Canterbury as well as in Thanet and Ashford.
"We need your support now more than ever.
"Meanwhile, as well as planning for the future, please be assured we will continue with 'business as usual' providing a gold-standard service for local people and their loved ones at the end of life."
The announcement follows an outpouring of opposition to proposals to close the 16 inpatient beds at the London Road site.
Earlier this week, trustees said they were "extremely concerned" about the strong feelings expressed by hundreds who attended an emotionally-charged public meeting at Canterbury Academy.
Hundreds of frustrated campaigners battling to save the unit stormed out of the meeting on Friday, May 30, after Dr Morey said it was not a consultative meeting, but merely a presentation of the trust's views.
A Facebook campaign group attracting 13,000 followers and a petition with 18,500 signatures had placed further pressure on charity chiefs to rethink the proposals.
Until this week, charity bosses had stood their ground over the planned closure, despite growing pleas for them to change their minds.
They claimed the centre – which opened in 1982 – was "no longer fit for purpose" and the closure would save £500,000 a year.
Instead, they wanted to expand hospice care in the community, with staff visiting patients in their own homes, nursing homes and hospitals.
Today, hospice chiefs pledged to keep inpatient beds open at its sites in Canterbury, Margate and Ashford - but are yet to confirm how many will remain.
"Full marks to the Trustees for listening" - MP Julian Brazier
Editor's blog: Let's get behind our hospice. Click here
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