Macmillan hits £2.1m appeal target early

PLANS for the new Palliative Care Unit at Antrim Area Hospital took a step closer to completion this week after the charity behind the project hit its target a year early.

Macmillan Cancer Support launched the appeal to build the £5 million palliative care unit in Antrim to ensure cancer patients get the end of life care they need.

The charity’s £2.1m appeal to create the first ever specialist palliative care beds in Northern Ireland hit its target a year early.

The new building is a partnership with the Northern Health and Social Care Trust and the Department of Health in Northern Ireland.

The charity has been overwhelmed by the response of the local community with money pouring in from individuals, groups and businesses.

Heather Monteverde, Macmillan’s general manager in Northern Ireland, said: “The response from the people throughout the Northern Trust area has been overwhelming.

“This new specialist palliative care unit will ensure those with complex care needs will get the best possible care and we are incredibly grateful to everyone who helped us make this possible.”

The new unit will have 12 ensuite bedrooms for cancer patients and overnight accommodation for relatives.

There will also be outpatient services for people who need day care but who don’t need to stay in the unit.

As well as specialist medical help, patients and their families will also be able to access emotional and financial support, complementary therapies and respite care.

Dr Yvonne Duff, Macmillan consultant in palliative medicine, said: “Currently NHS patients cannot access specialist inpatient palliative care in the Northern Trust area so there is a real need for this unit.

“This specialist environment will mean those with complex care needs will be as comfortable as possible.

“As well as specialist clinical care one of the big strengths of the unit is that it allows families to stay with patients overnight when appropriate.”

Work on the new unit, being built opposite Laurel House at the Antrim Area Hospital, began in January and is expected to be finished by April 2011.

The £2.1m appeal covers the cost of the building work, however Macmillan still needs to raise around £800,000 to cover staffing and other costs.

Maria McGleenon, Macmillan’s fundraising manager in Antrim, said: “Macmillan is extremely grateful to everyone who have already contributed or pledged funds to the appeal.

“For such small communities to pull together and raise £2.1m in such a short space of time is just amazing.

“We must especially thank our fundraising committees who were fantastic at raising money through their own events and by encouraging others to get involved.

“We are also very grateful to the many local businesses, individuals, charitable trusts and groups and associations who have supported us in so many ways.

“However while the appeal target has been reached, we still need lots of support.

“The £2.1m will pay for the building however we must continue to raise money to fund specialist health care professionals to staff the unit.

“The people of the Northern Trust area have been incredibly generous so far and we would ask that they continue to support Macmillan to ensure we can offer the best possible services within the new unit.”

To discuss fundraising for Macmillan please contact the Belfast Office on 0289 070 8610 or email [email protected]