Is it time to help the hospices?

At Easter, Jenny McMurtary was given just days to live. At Christmas, she had been diagnosed with a sarcoma, a rare cancer, in her shoulder, and it had spread. But now she is making the most of the summer, with her husband, Michael. “We’ve been to garden centres, local villages and even made a trip to Hayling Island,” says the 69-year-old. “You have to be careful not to push yourself too much, but I want to make the most of the time I have left.”

How has she defied medical opinion? Good care and personal determination have obviously played a key part. But so has the help she has received from the local hospice service. Jenny is one of 2,000 people cared for each year by Phyllis Tuckwell, a hospice group that covers West Surrey and North East Hampshire. Contrary to popular opinion, much of the service operates out in the community.

The actual hospice building, in Farnham, looks after 350 in-patients a year, but an estimated 1,600 will receive help at home over the next year. And several hundred more will be helped via the day centre service along with the support given to carers and relatives.