Marie Curie care plan saved but Pittenweem widow’s fight goes on

Nan Bond. Picture by George McLuskie.
Nan Bond. Picture by George McLuskie.

A widow who fought for a health care scheme for terminal patients to be saved from the axe has spoken of her relief at news of a reprieve.

However, Nan Bond says she’ll continue the fight to keep the fast-track Marie Curie project going for as long as possible, as it had been of immense benefit to her family and should not be allowed to fail.

Nan, of Pittenweem, had decided to launch an online petition and make other efforts to raise awareness, after being shocked to hear the two-year pilot project was ending on March 31 because there was no more funding.

The scheme, previously funded by Marie Curie and the OAK Foundation, allowed terminally ill cancer patients to leave hospital and spend their final period of life at home, which allowed them the dignity of being cared for in comfortable surroundings with their families and, importantly, also freed up hospital beds.

However, following protests at the decision, it was announced last week by NHS Fife that funding had been secured to keep the venture going for at least another year.

Nan’s husband Rab died of a brain tumour on Hogmanay last year, aged 67. Heartbreaking as that was, she said, the Marie Curie team’s high-quality, hands-on care was a tremendous comfort.

“What these girls did for me and Rab went far and beyond the call of duty, and I know our own doctor thought this team would have saved the NHS much time and funding,” said Nan (68).

“They were a great help to our medical team. Doctors and district nurses combined all thought this team was invaluable – all except the government, I think.

“The fact these girls can give great help and comfort to someone who has a short-time lifespan, allowing them to spend time at home with loved ones – and still have the best of medical help – is, and was, wonderful for us.”

Nan said there should never have been any move to scrap or replace the scheme because it was working “100 per cent” .

She is pushing ahead with the petition and other fund-raising activities, as she does not want there to be similar uncertainty in 12 months.

“I don’t think the promise of a year is secure enough for these girls,” she said. “Does this mean they’ll be under the same threat after then?”

She hoped funding would be properly sorted by then, adding she was “chuffed to bits” that the coming year was safe.

“I am thrilled that other people are going to get the benefit the same as Rab did, with the care and love and attention they showed him,” she said. “We would never have got through those last few weeks without these girls on hand.

“They are a great source of help and support, and so dedicated to what they are doing, which is very reassuring for families.”