Palliative care unit to be named after generous nurse

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A NEW facility at the Borders General Hospital, dedicated to the care of dying patients, will be named after the retired nurse who left nearly £600,000 in her will “to support the creation of a hospice in the Borders”.

Fundraising to make the Margaret Kerr Unit a reality will begin in earnest in September, but the naming of the specialist palliative care in-patient unit, in honour of the benefactor who died in March, 2009, aged 83, has now been agreed by the board of NHS Borders.

The board has also endorsed moving the project forward to the business case stage and appointing a design team.

Dr Ross Cameron, medical director for NHS Borders, said: “In recognition of her significant legacy, which will be applied in its totality to the creation of the new unit, it will be named the Margaret Kerr Unit.

“Its creation will be made possible by securing charitable support to cover the capital costs. To date, more than half the capital costs have been secured in the form of firm pledges from key stakeholders and partners in the project.

“The remaining sum to be raised which will be the subject of a fundraising appeal in the Borders scheduled to start in September, subject to the board approving the full business case in June.”

Dr Cameron said the unit will incorporate a refurbished stroke unit which is currently located with palliative care in Ward 11 at the BGH.

The Borders is the only mainland health authority area in Scotland which does not have a special in-patient facility offering palliative care and involving a multi-professional team.

As well as controlling pain and other distressing symptoms, palliative care applies a holistic approach to meeting the physical, practical, social, emotional and spiritual needs of patients and families facing progressive illness and bereavement.

Miss Kerr, of West Linton, was the daughter of the Reverend Robert and Mrs Elizabeth Kerr of Smailholm and showed a keen interest in nursing from childhood. She volunteered as a Royal Navy nurse and trained and worked in Edinburgh where she became a ward sister, and was made an MBE for services to her profession.