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Only hospice in Western Isles faces closure threat

Bethesda Hospice, which once received donation from Trump family, has a £100,000 shortfall.

Bethesda Hospice in Stornoway is facing the threat of closure.
Bethesda Hospice in Stornoway is facing the threat of closure. STV

The only hospice in the Western Isles is under threat due to a serious funding crisis.

Bethesda Hospice in Stornoway has four beds to care for terminally ill patients, but says it has been left with a £100,000 shortfall.

Half of its money used to come from NHS Western Isles, however a new 'integration joint board' set up between the health board and Western Isles Council, alongside third sector care providers, now deals with funding.

Hospice bosses say they haven't received enough and warned they could be forced to close.

Bethesda's general manager Carol Sommerville said: "This last accounting year, we were running at a loss of about £100,000.

"We cannot continue to run at a loss. That's why we're looking for the money to be increased."

Bethesda has provided end-of-life care for more than 25 years and has tried to bridge previous funding gaps by appealing to the local community, but said that was no longer viable.

In 2015 it received a substantial donation from US President Donald Trump's sister Maryanne, as their mother came from Tong in Lewis.

The integration board said the hospice would get a ten per cent funding boost over three years, but bosses said it wasn't enough and there are now calls for the Scottish Government to intervene.

Western Isles MSP Alasdair Allan said: "There is no meeting of minds between Bethesda and the integrated joint board about what the base line is for the support they need as an organisation to go forward into the future.

"And that's why I'm asking if the health secretary's officials are able to intervene, to see if there is any room to bring people to that agreement."

The Scottish Government said it was keen to see a solution identified which best met the palliative care needs of those living in the Western Isles.

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