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Our History

The hospice has a long history dating back to a report published in 1972 that established a need for a palliative care service in Hillingdon.

A chance meeting in 1972 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 living with a terminal illness.

The President of the NSCR, Sir Michael Sobell, was impressed by the report and decided to personally provide £1 million to help support the building of the hospice. With funding from the NHS, Sir Michael Sobell and the local community, enough funds were raised to build a specialist palliative care unit, and the Michael Sobell Hospice opened its doors in 1977 to its first patients.

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Lady Sobell (far left), Sir Michael Sobell (centre) and Duchness of Kent (far right).
Lady Sobell (far left), Sir Michael Sobell (centre) and Duchness of Kent (far right).

In 1962, Sir Michael Sobell set up the Anne and Michael Sobel Trust in 1962 (renamed the Sobell Foundation in 1977). The charitable foundation dispensed millions of pounds to a range of causes such as cancer relief and research, Anglo-Jewish charities, Sobell sports centres in South Wales and Islington and the London Zoo’s pavilions for apes and monkeys, built in 1973. He also endowed the department of neurophysiology at the National Hospital for Nervous Diseases and the gastro- intestinal unit at Wexham Park Hospital in Slough. Funds from the Sobell Foundation enabled the opening of Michael Sobell Hospice in 1977.

The Michael Sobell Hospice was built on the Mount Vernon Hospital site in Northwood. The first patients were admitted to the 16 bed Inpatient Unit on Valentine’s Day, 1977 with clinical services provided by the local Hospital Trust (now known as East & North Herts Hospital NHS Trust).

Over the years, the range of services offered by the hospice expanded to include a Day Hospice. On the 23rd July 1982, the Day Therapy Unit was opened by Dr Robert Runice, the Archbishop of Canterbury.

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 Michael Sobell Charity to fund the refurbishment, it was agreed the unit could reopen.

Above is the refurn
Mayor of Hillingdon with Carol Weston of Harlington Hospice (1)
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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.

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