In 1972, a chance meeting between Dr Alistair Laing, Consultant Radiotherapist and Dr Eric Hughes of the National Society for Cancer Relief (NSCR, latterly Macmillan), resulted in a report confirming the need for specialist palliative care for people affected by terminal illness.
The President of the NSCR, Sir Michael Sobell, was impressed by the report and decided to personally provide £1 million to the NSCR to support the building of four continuing care units (Hospices) on Crown Land to improve care, pain control and support for patients with life limiting illnesses. This £1 million was provided on the condition that the NHS would fund running costs supported by charitable donations from the local community. Such donations in the case of Michael Sobell Hospice were channelled through a charity called The Friends of Michael Sobell House and which then became Michael Sobell Hospice Charity.
Michael Sobell Hospice was built on the Mount Vernon Hospital site here in Northwood. The first patients were admitted to the 16 bed Inpatient Unit on Valentine’s Day, 1977 with clinical services were provided by the local Hospital Trust, known today as East & North Herts Hospital NHS Trust.
Since the opening of Michael Sobell Hospice, the range of patient care has developed enormously. On 23rd July 1982 a Day Hospice was opened by Dr Robert Runcie, the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Charity wholly fund the running costs of the Day Hospice in accordance with its central aims - to give the staff and volunteers at the Hospice the money and resources they need to provide the best possible care.
In June 2018, the Inpatient Unit was sadly closed due to major changes with our clinical provider, East & North Herts Hospital NHS Trust, and an increasing awareness that the Hospice building was in need of refurbishment in order to offer the best possible environment for our patients and their families. Following a vehement campaign by our local community and a commitment from the Charity to fund the refurbishment, it was agreed the Unit could reopen. A key player in achieving this was our new clinical partner, Harlington Hospice, who worked extremely hard to negotiate contacts with the Clinical Commissioning Group and provided the necessary clinical and administrative processes and procedures needed to operate the new Unit. We are delighted to announce the Inpatient Unit was re-opened in December 2019 with the first patient admitted in January 2020.
Today, Michael Sobell Hospice Charity's primary purpose remains as it was in 1977 - to provide care for people from the local community who face life limiting illnesses and to provide vital support for their families and carers. The Hospice team also continue to embrace a philosophy of care that is supported by a multidisciplinary team of doctors, nurses, chaplains, social workers, counsellors, physiotherapists, occupational and complementary therapists, housekeepers and administration staff.