Why does Norfolk and Waveney need a new hospice?

“You matter because you are you, and you matter until the last moment of your life. We will do all we can, not only to help you die peacefully but to live until you die.”

Dame Cicely Saunders, founder of the modern hospice movement.

Over the past 40 years, the population of Norfolk has increased significantly, as has the incidence of terminal or life-limiting illness. Changing patterns of life mean care within the family unit is not always possible and there is a greater need for respite and day care.

In 2017, there were more than 11,500 deaths in Norfolk and Waveney. It is estimated around 70-75% of these would benefit from some form of palliative care – as an inpatient, in the community, or through the day centre.

Norfolk has one of the lowest levels of specialist palliative care provision of any English county. Commissioning guidelines indicate a requirement for 47-59 specialist beds and we currently only have 16 – all in Priscilla Bacon Lodge.

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, the level of occupancy in the beds at Priscilla Bacon Lodge was 92.6% – far higher than the national median of 78.5%. This means beds were already full almost all the time, incurring a waiting list and the possibility that patients may not be admitted promptly.

The pandemic has only made the need for the new hospice even more urgent. Demand for specialist palliative and end-of-life care nationally has reached and exceeded levels which were previously not anticipated until 2040. Locally, more and more patients are receiving palliative care in the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, which – as well as not being the setting of choice for those requiring end-of-life care – places a considerable demand on beds needed for acute services.
Priscilla Bacon Hospice patient nurse
Opened in 1979, Priscilla Bacon Lodge is a much-valued part of Norfolk’s healthcare landscape. Yet, with only 16 beds, the building, facilities and surrounding environment no longer meet the needs of our community. The constraints of Priscilla Bacon Lodge’s city centre site mean no further expansion is possible. Availability of parking is an issue for those visiting terminally ill loved ones, or going to the day centre.

There is an urgent need to update and improve Norfolk and Waveney’s end-of-life care provision. The new hospice will provide more people with the quality end-of-life care they desperately need. It will be the most modern facility in the region, with a greater number of beds and a wider range of community day care and outpatient services.