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August 27, 2011 / ultrafox1963

Forget-me-not Appeal: A response to the Leicester Mercury

In early August, the Leicester Mercury published a series of articles relating to my Forget-me-not Appeal.  They focused on the decision by University Hospitals of Leicester Trust (UHL)  to abandon plans for a sensory garden at Leicester General Hospital and queried whether this undermined the spirit of the Appeal.

Following publication of the articles, I held talks with the University Hospitals of Leicester Trust.   We agreed a statement reaffirming our commitment to the aims of the Appeal.   A copy of that statement was issued to all local media, including the Mercury.

However, the paper has now published a letter from Russ Smith, an Appeal supporter, who is clearly unaware of the most recent developments.  I have therefore issued the following statement, and await its publication in due course:

The principles behind the Appeal remain sound. Dementia continues to have an impact on the lives of many local residents. This impact is likely to increase in future years as the population grows older.

So I am delighted that the community, through the efforts of Mr Smith and many others like him, were able to raise over £170000 in support of the Appeal.

Leicester is now recognised as a pioneer in dementia care both regionally and nationally. Both I and the University Hospitals of Leicester Trust are determined to keep it that way.

However the Trust is operating in difficult financial circumstances. It is having to make tough decisions to ensure that the quality of elderly care can be
maintained at the level the community rightly expects.

As a consequence, decisions on the location of dementia care facilities are having to be reviewed, often on a frequent basis. It is clearly imperative that those facilities should be accessible to those who most need them.

Like Mr Smith, I was perturbed that certain changes were brought in at a very late stage. 

But having had the opportunity of meeting Trust consultants, and receiving a full and detailed explanation from them, I can now understand and accept the necessity for their introduction.

These consultants are experienced, respected people whom I have known and worked with for many years. They also support the aims of the Appeal and share my commitment towards its success.

The Trust has also acted to reassure other partners of the Appeal, including WRVS and the Alzheimer’s Society, that these changes will enhance rather than undermine its aims.  They and I will also be meeting shortly with the local Older Persons’ Forum to discuss concerns in more detail.  

A number of improvements will be unveiled across all city hospitals during the coming weeks and months. 

Those improvements will only be possible as a result of the support many local people gave to the Appeal, often in the face of challenging and trying circumstances.

We remain committed to ensure that the legacy of the Appeal leaves a lasting and positive impact for years, if not generations to come.

It’s a legacy which I, and everyone who has contributed to it, should be proud to support.”

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