Fight to save our hospice 'angels'
Gary Fitzpatrick • Published 1 Jul 2011 07:45
A WEST Fife widower has added his voice to those backing the campaign to keep Queen Margaret's hospice ward saying, "It's a very special place".
Cash-strapped NHS Fife have put forward the closure of the QMH's palliative care ward 16 as an option to save £320,000 a year but the plan has sparked anger in West Fife especially with families whose loved ones were cared for there.
They do not want others facing the same situation to have to travel to Kirkcaldy to spend precious time with their relatives over their last days.
People like Inverkeithing man Archie McQueen, whose wife Marilyn was 63 when she died after spending the final week of her life at ward 16.
She had cancer of the palate and died in August 2009. Like many others going through such a traumatic time, Mr McQueen will be forever grateful for the care and attention his wife received in the ward.
He said, "To me it's a very special place. The most wonderful place on earth and the staff are like angels without wings.
"As soon as you go in, peace and tranquillity takes over. You don't have to ask the staff for anything. They just seem to appear at times, asking if you want a cup of tea.
"Why would anybody want to close it down and force people into having to go to Kirkcaldy, having to catch half a dozen buses to get there?
"Ordinary people don't seem to count to them. That's the problem.
"People don't just go to the ward to die, it's also there for respite care.
"People can go there and their families have a break from looking after them," said Mr McQueen, of Hillfield Road.
John Winton, NHS Fife elected board member, is also on the operations division committee which will make the decision on the hospice's future on 13th July.
Mr Winton, from Rosyth, said, "I think they know now this would cause a problem.
"People in this area would be up in arms.
"Five or six years ago during 'Right for Fife' it was a unanimous decision that Dunfermline and Kirkcaldy would both have hospice wards. It was taken as read."
Mr Winton is suspicious of suggestions that the numbers using the Queen Margaret hospice ward are falling.
"It's all about saving money. If they say the occupancy numbers are down in Dunfermline I would want to see if the Kirkcaldy numbers have gone up.
"If a family are desperate and they're told the only bed available is in Kirkcaldy then they will probably take it even though they would be better in Dunfermline.
"I would think that, if anything, the need for the hospice ward is increasing. We have an ageing population and I'd think there will be more people, sadly, finding themselves in these circumstances.
"It's okay to talk about community care but it doesn't work in every case. Some people are better cared for in hospital than at home."
This article appeared in Dunfermline Press 06 Jul 11