Margaret Kerr’s wish comes true as new palliative care unit opens

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THE Borders’ first dedicated palliative care unit has opened its doors to its first patients.

The £4.1 million Margaret Kerr Unit at Borders General Hospital was opened this week after the final £1million was raised in a 16-month fundraising campaign.

More than 1,000 individual donations were received since the September 2011 launch of the Margaret Kerr Unit Appeal – named after the West Linton nurse who died four years ago and left a bequest of more than £500,000 for a dedicated facility to be built.

NHS Borders say the much-needed facility will improve the quality of life for terminally ill patients by providing more privacy, space and family time.

Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale MSP Christine Grahame welcomed the unit’s opening.

She said: “I have been very impressed with the fundraising efforts of all those involved in this project and wrote to the team in November congratulating them. A palliative care unit has long been needed in the Borders as it meets the needs of patients and families facing progressive illness and bereavement.

“As we know up until now it has been the case that patients have to stay in Edinburgh or further afield, which can add to the distress for them and their families.”

The £1million target was reached last month, three months ahead of schedule, with appeal chairman James Marjoribanks admitting he was overwhelmed with the public’s response. The unit includes eight large single rooms all with fold-down beds for relatives, as well as several large lounges and surrounding gardens.

It is estimated that around 200 people a year will use the facility. Other significant financial backers were Macmillan Cancer Support (£750,000) and The Robertson Trust (£350,000).