£4.2M BGH palliative care unit is set to be in business

Margeret Kerr
Margeret Kerr
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THE board of NHS Borders is today expected to approve the full business case for the construction of the Margaret Kerr Unit – a new £4.2million in-patient specialist palliative care facility at Borders General Hospital.

At their public meeting in Newstead, members will be asked to endorse the business case which outlines all aspects of the scheme. They will also be recommended – in a report by planning and performance officer Susan Yates – to award the contract to build the unit to BAM Construction.

Building work will start at the beginning of April and with an estimated construction schedule of 40 weeks, the unit could be welcoming patients during the first quarter of next year.

Borders is currently the only mainland health board in Scotland without a dedicated in-patient palliative care facility or independent hospice.

Following a review of palliative care services undertaken in 2008 by Audit Scotland, NHS Borders acknowledged that improvements were needed to the environment in which palliative care is given at the BGH.

Scoping work began to investigate the type of facility that would best serve the needs of palliative patients and their families – and in 2010 a legacy of more than £600,000 from the trustees of the estate of the former nurse after whom the unit is named emerged. It formed the lead gift to the project, the full capital cost of which must be met by charitable funds.

Following this, further funds from major contributors – including The Robertson Trust – were secured, and in June last year the NHS Borders board gave approval for the development of the unit, with funds of £3.1 million already secured.

In September 2011 last year a public fundraising appeal, supported by The Southern, to raise the “final million” was launched.

To date, this appeal has raised over £70,000. Many local charities and societies including Callum’s Trust, The Lavender Touch, Friends of the Borders General Hospital and The Rotary Clubs of the Borders have pledged their support to the appeal and are actively fundraising to achieve the target as soon as possible.

The new unit will have eight en-suite bedrooms, each with direct access for patients and their families to the landscaped garden areas and views of the Borders countryside. NHS Borders will have full responsibility for the running costs of The Margaret Kerr Unit.