New Winchester hospice opens after years in the making

Video report by ITV News Meridian's Mary Stanley

Winchester Hospice has finally opened after more than five years of planning and a huge fundraising effort by local people.

The building work was delayed due to the pandemic but now the first patients have been admitted.

Until now patients and their families have had to travel to Southampton, Basingstoke or Andover for hospice care.

Winchester Hospice

For years it was a derelict building on the site of the Royal Hampshire County Hospital.

Julie Luke's mother-in-law had to go to Andover for hospice care, which meant a 45 mile round trip for her family at an already difficult time.

Julie said: "She was taken away from her friends. And when you are in your late 80s, your friends can't actually do that travel because where the hospice is in Andover isn't actually on a public transport route. 

"You then end up doing a lot of travelling to and from and I was just amazed at the time that Winchester didn't have a hospice."

Building on the hospice began in 2019 but planning started years earlier. 

A huge fundraising effort was launched which raised £4.4m for the project.

The hospice has 10 ensuite rooms for patients needing end of life care, as well as space for outpatient treatments and day care.

Winchester Hospice

Specialist nurse Gemma Pemberton said: "What makes it so unique and so special to Winchester hospice is the hospital bed. 

"This one extends into a double bed calling it a cuddle bed. It means grandchildren and children and everyone can just get on the bed together and it just makes it much more of a homely experience and more personal experience for everyone in the hospice."

Winchester Hospice

The hospice will be funded the NHS with additional support still needed from fundraising.

The first two people were admitted to the hospice at the weekend. 

Meanwhile finishing touches are being made to the building and more staff being trained up. 

It is hoped it will be fully operational by the end of the year.