‘Fit for Future’ is an extensive public consultation on how palliative and end of life care services in Somerset should be delivered in the future.
Following an initial launch at the end of last month, St Margaret’s has this week launched a new website which enables local people to contribute with their views and suggestions.
The charity is also holding a series of community focus groups across the county.
The hospice intends to bring together a wide range of people, including healthcare experts, carers, academics and politicians, as well as patient representatives and families and neighbouring hospices.
The review programme – which is chaired by Lord Paddy Ashdown, the former leader of the Liberal Democrats and one of St Margaret’s vice presidents – is being supported by both Marie Curie and Macmillan. Both charities are represented on the panel.
The review panel will discuss the challenges that will face the providers of healthcare services in future; according to the Office for National Statistics, around a quarter of the population of Somerset is expected to be 65 or older by 2033 and there will be as many people in their 80s as in their 20s.
Ann Lee, St Margaret’s chief executive, explained how the programme will work: “The panel will be meeting monthly and as the ideas come in, they will be discussing them and assessing their viability,” she said.
“The consultation lasts for six months, until April, and then the panel will be making recommendations to the board of trustees at St Margaret’s. We expect pilot projects to be in place late 2016 or early 2017 with new models of care rolled out by the end of 2017.”
She also encouraged people in Somerset to get involved in the programme. “No idea is a bad idea. We want as many people as possible to have a voice on what end of life care should look like in the future. While you may not have been affected by a life-limiting illness during your lifetime, one in three people in Somerset – whether personally or through a family member or friend – will at some point need the support of St Margaret’s Hospice.”
Lord Ashdown, a vice president of St Margaret’s for more than twenty years, said he was very proud to be leading the programme.
“We will need to reform and determine how we can reduce the cost of delivering patient care without compromising care quality,” he said.
“Everyone will die eventually, no other area of healthcare has this 100% certainty. If we don’t tackle this now, it will mean less care and more suffering in the future. The work we are undertaking is literally vital for our county and its people in years to come. I am delighted that Somerset is leading the way.”
Visit the Fit for Future website for further details.