Hospice has to cut services

PUBLISHED: 12:59 11 May 2006 | UPDATED: 10:09 06 May 2010

Jim and Julie Paterson with nine-year-old son Jamie

Jim and Julie Paterson with nine-year-old son Jamie

A CHILDREN S hospice has had to cut services because it is struggling financially. Keech Cottage is the only children s hospice covering Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire and last year helped 29 children and their families from Stevenage, Hitchin and Letchwo

A CHILDREN'S hospice has had to cut services because it is struggling financially.

Keech Cottage is the only children's hospice covering Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire and last year helped 29 children and their families from Stevenage, Hitchin and Letchworth GC with specialist children's hospice care.

However it has been revealed that the Pasque Charity, which runs the hospice, last year spent £500,000 more than it brought in through funding and donations.

Although changes to the NHS could result in increased financial support for hospices in 2008, the Keech chief executive John Quill wants clarification on what to expect and has challenged the NHS to turn its "talk" into "real money".

Mr Quill said: "Because of all the unknown factors we are making this challenge to the NHS now, asking it to state its financial aims clearly, restrict its conditions and secure children hospice care for the future."

Two people who have suffered because of these financial difficulties are Jim and Julie Paterson of Wood Drive, Stevenage, whose nine-year-old son Jamie has used the hospice for the last five years.

Jamie was born premature and has cerebral palsy. He is also in need of 24-hour care but although the Patersons speak highly of the hospice, the pre-planned respite services they once used have had to be cut.

Mr Paterson, 48, said: "We were receiving pre-planned respite whereby we were able to book Jamie in for up to three nights so my wife and I were able to go away for a long weekend and recuperate.

"Now they've stopped it we're struggling to find somewhere that our son feels comfortable with."

Mrs Paterson, 50, added: "At Keech you're made to feel part of a family so when we were told we would not receive any more pre-planned respite support we felt bereaved."

The Patersons have been referred to a hospice in Welwyn Garden City but they would have preferred to continue using Keech.

Mr Paterson said: "Keech has said it wants to open a satellite service to offer respite services, but it all comes down to funding. They're now having to rely even more on volunteers donating."

To find out more information about the hospice, or ways in which to help, call 01582 497849 or email pasque@pasque.org


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