ST MARGARET of Scotland Hospice has an outstanding record at every level when it comes to the delivery of the 60 beds it provides.
Thirty of the beds are palliative care beds and remain unchanged - except that there has been an ongoing dispute in regards to the level of funding for St Margaret’s against what is paid to other hospices for palliative beds. This goes all the way back to the last Scottish Executive and has never been resolved. However, the new chairman of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, John Brown has put in a considerable amount of work on these two historic issues and I believe there is now a real prospect of a conclusion to them.
St Margaret’s also has 30 long-term beds for the elderly, who have complex medical needs, which are contracted by the health board.
The health board has decided to not place any future patients in this category at St Margaret’s and has decided to retain them in-house by directly administering the patients themselves. The health board has issued an assurance that all of the present patients will remain at St Margaret’s and not be relocated. Officials also guaranteed the long term funding for this to happen.
To make it easier to explain, the beds that will replace them in the future will not be medical beds but effectively care beds.
Care beds are provided for people who decided, or their families have decided they are no longer able to look after themselves. They are funded by individual care packages.
A care package can be provided whether you decide to stay in your own home or move into a retirement home, care home, nursing home, sheltered accommodation etc. Most of these establishments are now private, some are charity-owned and very few are local authority-owned.
If a patient decides to stay in their own home - which can be privately owned, council, socially rented, rented in the private sector - it makes no difference to the care package. Nor does it if their family decide on their behalf to move to any of the other establishments I mentioned. The patient still does not pay for their medical needs. However, in regards to the social care needs, if one has no personal resources of their own, the state can fund the care package. If the patient has the personal resources, they pay for the package. Care packages were introduced in the first Parliament by the then Scottish Executive in 2002.
Therefore, the hospice is caught in the middle since it has charitable status not to charge and although it would not be the hospice who were charging directly it would be West Dunbartonshire HSCP – a public organisation. People would need to be assessed just the same since the beds are not medical.
From my position, I cannot see how it is not possible to find a way that charges are not made for those who attend St Margaret’s.
As far as I’m aware, the hospice is the only establishment out with a hospital which carries out its present work. It does it so well I would want this resource used, not just to save it for saving sake, but to benefit society in general and in the future.
Gil Paterson MSP
Member of the Scottish Parliament for Clydebank and Milngavie (SNP)