A HOSPICE has announced major new development proposals.

St Cuthbert’s Hospice, which is celebrating 25 years providing care for people with life-limiting illnesses, wants to add three beds to its 10-bed in-patient unit, re-shape its day services, expand its education, research and training role and develop its community-based work.

The proposals are currently out to public consultation and are due to be considered by trustees in August.

Chief executive Paul Marriott said: “We’re living in changing times and we know that the need for our services is going to grow.

“We need to respond to that and with the same vision, energy and commitment that people showed 25 years ago to get this place established in the first place.

“We have a plan which we believe sets out a sensible approach to providing a broader range of services to meet the changing needs of our population at a time when everyone is feeling the pinch.”

The extra in-patient beds would be provided in the hospice’s existing buildings, in Merryoaks, Durham.

The changes are expected to increase the facility’s annual costs by £130,000 a year to £2.43m.

It currently receives £1.1m a year from the NHS, with the remainder coming from fundraising.

The proposals come amid a changing environment for the hospice. The county’s new Clinical Commissioning Groups are conducting a review of palliative care, the Government is looking to introduce a per-patient tariff for care and the hospice is about to welcome a new consultant: Dr David Oxenham, from a Marie Curie Hospice in Edinburgh.

Meanwhile, while the overall population of County Durham is expected to rise by three per cent by 2031, the increase in over 65s is expected to be 60 per cent and increase in over 85s a staggering 157 per cent.

Mr Marriott, who arrived from youth homelessness charity Depaul UK in September, hopes to increase the hospice’s number of regular donors from 552 to 2,500.

He said: “St Cuthbert’s Hospice is a place with a lot of community support. We have 350 active volunteers, as well as our (60) paid staff and tremendous support from the community.

“To be able to lead an organisation that has that much goodwill is a real privilege.”

For more information on the proposals, visit stcuthbertshospice.com or call 0191-3861170.