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Maggie’s Centre moves a step closer

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By Marc McLean, local democracy reporter
Maggie’s Centre moves a step closer

PRESSING ahead with plans for a multi-million pound cancer facility in Dumfries and Galloway should be a priority for the region, according to the health board’s top man.

Jeff Ace, chief executive of NHS Dumfries and Galloway, this week urged members of the health board to get behind a joint project with Maggie’s to deliver a specialised cancer care facility.

While all board members are supportive of the idea, some have reservations about whether or not the struggling health service has the capacity to make such a big project a reality.

At Monday’s meeting, non-executive board members Greg Black and Laura Douglas both shared concerns about already-overstretched NHS staff taking on this project on top of the day job, and not having the resources to deliver.

But Mr Ace responded: “We can do this project. It will mean that other things are de-prioritised and will take longer.

“That’s what I guess we can look at through our tactical priorities paper for next year to make sure people are comfortable with that.

“But we can certainly undertake this business case with Maggie’s support.”

He added: “This is potentially a really good development for us as a board. It’s a really important step in our ability to give holistic support to people experiencing cancer.

“I think we should take those steps with Maggie’s to produce the business case. If we hit capacity problems, we come back to the board to say, ‘this is now what we’re going to have to sacrifice’ to continue the Maggie’s work.”

Health board members agreed to proceed with developing a business case for the establishment of a Maggie’s Centre and associated outreach services in the region.

The meeting heard that there was widespread support in the community for such a service. Members were also told that Maggie’s would consider widening the scope of the services and support they offer, to include people with palliative needs; people with life limiting conditions such as dementia, MND and organ failure.

The centre could also offer people psychological support at a time when the current service is stretched even more as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Currently, residents from the region have to travel to Glasgow or Edinburgh to their Maggie’s Centres which provide free practical, emotional and social support to people with cancer and their families.

A campaign has been under way since 2014 to persuade NHS bosses to allow a Maggie’s Centre to be built in the grounds of Dumfries Infirmary.

Dumfries was the home of the late Maggie Jencks, the co-founder of Maggie’s Centres with her husband Charles Jencks, who died in 2019.

Maggie’s will build it and need 60 per cent of the building costs in place before they begin.


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