A campaigner announced he intends to start a support group for hospice patients moved to a hospital ward because there is a “void that needs filling”. 

Terry Dean said he decided to set up My Safe Haven for patients and families at the Michael Sobell Hospice after becoming involved in a campaign to secure the charity’s future.

He started a petition in June when he learned the charity’s inpatient service at Mount Vernon Hospital in Northwood had been relocated to the hospital’s cancer centre wards. The petition so far has more than 8,600 signatures.

Terry’s wife Jane died four years ago aged 59 from bowel cancer. She spent her last few days at the hospice where Terry reported she received “fabulous” care.

Terry told the Watford Observer he is concerned the move will affect overall palliative care to patients.

He said: “I decided to set up My Safe Haven after becoming aware of how valuable psychological support can be for patients who have just received the shocking news that they are only expected to live a very short time longer.

“Nobody knows how they will react when given that news. But I have received numerous testimonials being part of the Save Michael Sobell Hospice campaign from relatives of former inpatients, which have convinced me that Patient and Family Support (PAFS) from qualified professionals is something that the community would wish to have available.”

Since the interim move, Terry said “there is a void that needs filling” with regards to Patient and Family Support, who offer among other things, psychological care to people affected by terminal illness. 

He said: “That is why I am setting up My Safe Haven. To offer a solid base of psychological support that is proactive but unobtrusive; always there in the background, to be called upon in those dark, seemingly unbearable, moments.”

Speaking about Patient and Family Support, Michael Sobell Hospice Charity chief executive officer, Judi Byrne, said: “With the relocation, the work of the PAFS team transferred to the main hospital building and the hospital team are fulfilling that role.

“Patients still have access to Patient and Family Support provided by East and North Herts NHS Trust.

“The function of PAFS services was transferred to the services available in the hospital block. 

“PAFS were contracted by the charity and those contracts were ceased with the relocation to the main the hospital block in order not to have a duplication of services.”

Ms Byrne said she did not wish to comment on My Safe Haven.

Terry added: “My recent experiences struck a chord with me from when my own wife died four years ago.

“The nursing staff were, as usual, exemplary. But sometimes, especially for people who are on their own, little problems can seem overwhelming.

“Professional Patient and Family Support can help with this and turn what can be a time of mental torture and anguish for all concerned into one that lives on in the memory as one to be cherished.”

Terry said he is in talks with interested business people and considering a charitable trust to launch the support group.

Anyone interested can visit www.savemsh.co.uk