THE Macmillan Unit will be rebuilt into a multimillion pound state-of-the-art end of life care centre, the Daily Echo can today reveal.
Dorset charity Macmillan Caring Locally, which has no connection to the national organisation Macmillan Cancer Support, already has £5 million in reserves for the project and will soon launch a fundraising appeal to raise a further £4 million with the help of the community.
The purpose-built two-storey facility on the site of Christchurch Hospital will provide specialist palliative care for anyone with advanced, progressive, incurable illnesses including cancer, motor neurone disease or heart and lung conditions as well as giving support to families, carers and friends.
A bigger centre is needed due to a rise in the number of referrals which has rocketed from 581 in 2006 to 1543 in 2016.
Capital appeal director Lin Sharp, who was appointed in October to oversee the project, said: “This is hugely exciting news for the Dorset community.
“There isn’t anybody who hasn’t been touched by the Macmillan Unit. It has a special place in the community’s heart.
“The vision for the new Macmillan Unit is for it to be the benchmark by which future palliative care will be based and something for us all to feel very proud of.”
The current 16 bed unit was the first of its kind in the country when it was built at the hospital in 1974.
The NHS funds core services but a significant proportion of the funding comes from the charity thanks to the generosity of the community.
The project is still in its early stages but the charity has revealed the new-build will be a separate building within the hospital grounds.
It will be larger, with 20 beds and a day centre, all with direct patient and family access to a garden area.
Already kind-hearted members of the public are planning fundraising challenges for the appeal.
Trust secretary Neal Williams said: “As the unit was the first of its kind when it was built in 1974, there are many improvements to patient facilities that have been learned over the years that our clinical time would like to include in the new building.
“This is going to be a major project for us and a very important build for the community. We have been working towards this point for many years, but sadly find ourselves short of the funds needed.”
The fundraising appeal will be launched within the coming weeks and plans will be unveiled.
Neal added: “Our patients receive the best possible care thanks to our team of professionals and volunteers and the generosity of our community. We want to ensure that our patients have the best possible environment and facilities.
“Obviously as soon as we have an agreed plan we will share all the detail in it then. We can’t wait to see it ourselves.”
Richard Renaut, chief operating officer at The Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: "We've been working closely with Macmillan Caring Locally for over 40 years and wholeheartedly support their efforts to raise their target for the new centre. It's an ambitious target but the unit's staff do such important work, we can't wait to see the funds raised and the development complete for the benefit of our patients and staff."
For more information go to macmillanlocal.org