'Incredible' hospices need support says campaigner

A woman whose mum died in a hospice shared her experiences with politicians as part of a drive to support the sector.

Naomi Barlow, 20, visited London to speak at a parliamentary reception about her mum, Rachel, who died in February 2023.

She was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and spent her final days at Sue Ryder Duchess of Kent Hospice in Reading, Berkshire.

Ms Barlow, from Reading, said her mum’s care was “absolutely incredible” and that her initial perceptions of hospice care “couldn’t have been more wrong”.

Last month, Hospice UK - a national charity for hospice and end of life care - said the sector faced a collective deficit of £77m across 2023/24.

It said about 300,000 people are supported by it every year.

Ms Barlow said: “I think it’s so important that parliamentarians are aware of the hospice sector and how important it is.

“It does need to be realised that the hospice sector is so underfunded and so many people benefit, and will benefit from these services. It seems a bit stupid to be completely ignoring what we know will help us at some point in time.”

She said she had previously perceived hospices to be “sad and dark” places – but found her opinion was changed by the quality of the care and help at the Reading hospice.

Dr Paul Perkins, Sue Ryder’s chief medical officer, said: “One of the great problems we have is people are so scared to come into somewhere like a hospice.

"They’re so scared the hospices are going to be awful, it takes ages for us to persuade them to come in. When they come in they say: ‘this is so much nicer than I thought it was going to be, I wish I had come in sooner'."

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