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Highland Hospice, Inverness confirms it cares for people in need from Forres "when appropriate"

By Garry McCartney

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Profits from the Highland Hospice shop on Forres High Street support the Highland-based service.
Profits from the Highland Hospice shop on Forres High Street support the Highland-based service.

A CHARITY disputes a councillor’s claims that a local charity shop is raising funds for a respite that is not available to Forres residents.

Councillor George Alexander was disappointed when he heard that Highland Hospice at 43 High Street, Forres is selling donations of clothing, bric-a-brac, jewellery, and other items to raise funds for an organisation that does not usually offer services to people in the area.

He said: “Moray is not allowed to use the Highland Hospice services. We should have our own hospice.”

Inverness-based Highland Hospice is the only charity serving adults with incurable life-limiting diseases in the Highlands and is acknowledged as a resource of specialist palliative care expertise. A quarter of the annual funds which keep its services running are obtained from operation of its 11 shops.

Highland Hospice head of fundraising and development, Andrew Leaver, explained that when the hospice was established in 1985 there was a single NHS in Scotland and the catchment area it covered was decided by travel patterns.

He said: “Forres residents would more likely gravitate towards Inverness than Aberdeen. For this reason, despite being called Highland Hospice, we chose to support the people of Forres. In the late 80’s and early 90’s we had an active fundraising group in the town and we named our then-family sitting room ‘Varis’. Also, we opened a shop at 43 High Street 25 years ago, which remains one of our most successful.”

However, in 2001 NHS Highland Health Board was established as a separate entity from NHS Grampian.

Mr Leaver said: “In this system, GP’s and consultants in Forres are expected to refer into NHS Grampian services in Elgin and Aberdeen where palliative care is provided. However, we are independent of the NHS and we did not change our policy of accepting appropriate referrals for any of our services – inpatient care, day therapy, bereavement support – from Forres. If we are contacted by someone from the area in need of our support we will do everything we can to help them.”

Cllr Alexander queried how many admissions there have been from the Forres area to the Highland Hospice since the shop on High Street was established in March, 1996.

He said: “I did see a death notice a few weeks ago for a Forres resident who died in the Highland Hospice but the present situation does seem an injustice to the people of Forres and the immediate area. The real solution should surely be to establish a branch of the Highland Hospice service in Moray or allow those who live in the west of Moray to have access in Inverness.”

Mr Leaver replied: “We don’t have a record of all the people from Forres we have helped over the past 25 years.”

Highland Hospice offers: inpatient care in a 12-bed unit at Ness House, Inverness; day services through telephone, Zoom and home visits; a rehabilitation service; support from a social worker, chaplain, and bereavement team; a volunteer befriending and support service for people living at home with their illness in the Highlands.

The NHS provides an annual grant but Highland Hospice needs additional funds of over £7000-a-day to cover the costs of delivering services. This is achieved through fundraising and retail activities.

A Highland Hospice spokesperson said: “As Forres is based in NHS Grampian, the normal referral route for access to specialist palliative care is through Roxburghe house. Where it makes sense due to family circumstances arrangements can sometimes be made to support an admission to Highland Hospice.”

Roxburghe House at Ashgrove Road, Aberdeen was purpose-built to meet the needs of patients requiring specialist palliative care in NHS Grampian.

n For more details, see www.nhsgrampian.org/hospital-hub/roxburghe-house or call 01224 557057 for more information.

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