Merril Hammer and fellow campaigners are calling for the Palliative Care unit to be reopen.

NHS chiefs still have no clear idea if end -of-life hospital unit might reopen.

By Owen Sheppard published in My London News.


Campaigners were outraged to hear there is no plan to reopen the Pembridge  hospice at St Charles’Hospital in North Kensington.

The 13-bed Pembridge palliative care unit was used as a hospice before it closed in October 2018.

A trend towards patients preferring to die at home and difficulty hiring a consultant were given as reasons for its closure.

London NHS chiefs had promised a review of how end-of-life care would be delivered in boroughs that were served by the Pembridge – Hammersmith & Fulham, Kensington & Chelsea, Brent and Westminster.

Proposals were due to be published early last year, but this was “paused” when the pandemic began, and the unit was then used as a facility for patients recovering from severe Covid cases. Its staff have been “redeployed to give vaccinations”.

Campaigner Merril Hammer said it was “really quite appalling ” that NHS officers were unable to confirm if or when it might reopen.

During a public meeting on April 15, Ms Hammer was told by Jo Ohlson, accountable officer for North West London Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), that” current arrangements will continue”.

Ms Ohlson said ” that palliative community team coming out of Pembridge still continues and we have interim arrangements in place for hospice care across those(areas) that were served by the Pembridge unit, and those are monitored to see if there are any capacity issues.

“We have undertaken that there will be a full review of north west London palliative care services. That got slightly stalled by the second wave. It will start as soon as possible.

Ms Hammer then said: ” In terms of a whole lot of patients who had expectations of their end-of-life care … their end of life hasn’t  been put on hold, but their care and their planning for their care has been put on hold. And I think that, nearly two years after the review started, not to actually be seeing the CCG carrying through a full review and coming up with proposals for consultation, that is really quite appealing.”

Ms Ohlson replied:”I will pick up the point Merril has made around planning for palliative care. We have recognised it as a number one priority in terms of the local care work. We do need to pick that up and I appreciate that it’s been a very long time. We will start it as soon as we can”.

The meeting on Thursday was the very first meeting of the board of governors of the newly-formed North West London CCG-groups of GPs who commission NHS services-in each borough.