Family in calls for more cancer support

A RATHFRILAND family have supported calls for more funding for cancer support services in the district after new figures showed the level of patients being treated for the disease is higher than the national average.

The Southern Area Hospice treated almost double the number of daycare patients as the national average last year, figures from a 2009-2010 report reveal.

John and Julie Jardine, whose 36-year-old daughter Helen was cared for at the hospice before her death in 2007, said their time at the facility was crucial at a time of great sadness.

“It sounds strange to say but we had a good two weeks at the hospice with Helen, the whole family spent as much time as possible with her. The staff were so good to Helen and to us – it’s hard to explain how much they helped us all. We were all with Helen on that Tuesday morning in August as she passed away so peacefully. Helen was such a vital part of our family and we all miss her so much, especially her children.”

Figures obtained by the Leader show that more than 1,000 people were diagnosed with cancer in Banbridge council area between 2004-2008. And while this is lower than the Northern Ireland average, many terminal patients from this area use the Southern Area Hospice in Newry for its inpatient, outpatient, bereavement and daycare services.

Marginally more men than women have been diagnosed in Banbridge according to the latest figures which show 621 male diagnoses compared to 567 females diagnoses.

The report, courtesy of the National Council for Palliative Care, compred thenumber of patients treated here alongside the national average in similar sized organisations.

The National Council for Palliative Care is the umbrella organisation for all those involved in providing, commissioning and using Palliative care in Hospice services in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Among the most significant figures is the percentage of new patients using the Daycare service in the 25-64 age group. In Southern Area Hospice it was 47 per cent compared to the national average of 28 per cent. Similarly Bereavement support in this age group was much higher in Southern Area Hospice at 63.2 per cent compared to the national average of 54.7 per cent.

Dr Osmond Morris, Medical Director Southern Area Hospice Services, said the figures reinforce the need for funding for the service.

“The figures in themselves are not a cause for alarm but clearly show an on-going and increasing demand from patients for all the services provided by the Hospice.”

The Jardines called for people to continue their support of the hospice through fundraising. “These figures show how many people locally depend on the services of Southern Area Hospice,” they added. “Southern Area Hospice relies on the generosity of the public to raise the £2.2 million it needs each year to continue to provide the high level of care and support that it currently offers. I would urge you to take a look at these figures as people not just numbers and to support hospice services in any way you can.”

For further information about this report or how to help the hospice log onto www.southernareahospiceservices.org.