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Hampstead hospice: Financial damage of coronavirus pandemic threatens our future

PUBLISHED: 10:42 01 May 2020 | UPDATED: 18:30 07 May 2020

Marie Curie, Hampstead lead nurse Denise O'Malley (left) and hospice manager Jackie Bennett (right). Picture: Marie Curie

Marie Curie, Hampstead lead nurse Denise O'Malley (left) and hospice manager Jackie Bennett (right). Picture: Marie Curie

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A Hampstead hospice warns its survival is under threat as it fights a financial hole of £224,000 per month during the pandemic.

The care facility in Lyndhurst Gardens looks after people with terminal illness and its national charity Marie Curie is the largest provider of hospice beds outside the NHS. Picture: Yui Mok/PAThe care facility in Lyndhurst Gardens looks after people with terminal illness and its national charity Marie Curie is the largest provider of hospice beds outside the NHS. Picture: Yui Mok/PA

Marie Curie Hospice, Hampstead has witnessed an 82% fall in fundraising income which endangers the charity’s very existence depending on future government support.

The care facility in Lyndhurst Gardens, which looks after people with terminal illness, has launched an emergency appeal which hospice manager Jackie Bennett says is critical to the charity’s sustainability.

Jackie told the Ham&High: “The appeal is to ensure the charity can survive and care for more dying patients.

“It will help support our NHS partners and those patients in the community where GPs are having to support them virtually rather than face-to-face. That’s the importance of our role in this.

Marie Curie, Hampstead lead nurse Denise O'Malley (left) and hospice manager Jackie Bennett (right). Picture: Marie CurieMarie Curie, Hampstead lead nurse Denise O'Malley (left) and hospice manager Jackie Bennett (right). Picture: Marie Curie

“We’re trying to support other organisations and ultimately help stabilise, or at least make easier, patients’ dying process, rather than them having to remain in an NHS hospital.”

Despite nationwide shortages and the concession it was “quite concerned” in previous weeks, Marie Curie claimed its Hampstead practice had “pretty much” all the PPE it needed.

However, gowns still prove difficult to obtain, the hospice said, so staff wear coveralls adhering to public health guidelines.

Another challenge for the hospice has been coping with the number of staff off with Covid-19, which previously wiped out as many of half of its workforce.

To prevent the spread of the virus inside its building, visitor numbers have been cut drastically – the emotional impact of which is tough, says lead nurse Denise O’Malley.

“The work that we do is all around comforting patients who are dying and giving the appropriate support to their loved ones,” Denise said.

“So to restrict or deny visits for the families of people who are dying is really difficult because it very much puts us out of our comfort zone.

“An important part of grieving and the bereavement process is about being with somebody at that time, so that’s been a challenge for us as it’s a barrier to what we normally do and the way we work.”

Yet despite the difficulties Marie Curie has faced, with “hospices a little bit forgotten during the pandemic”, Jackie emphasised the strength of community support it had received throughout Hampstead.

The hospice manager said: “We’ve had the nicest ever looking scrubs delivered by Savile Row, Easter eggs from a local resident, Domino’s turn up for staff and local businesses make visors and provide us with masks.

“There’s a lovely community spirit and it’s great we’ve got support from local companies, some of which are shut down, still thinking about what they’ve got in stock for PPE which they can help us out with.

“Without them we probably wouldn’t have the right PPE.

“So it’s a big thank you to all of those people who are helping support and donate which shows a real humanity locally, and it helps create a feel-good thing which is so needed at this time.”

To donate to Marie Curie’s emergency appeal, click here.


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