Patient care comes first We’re sure you will have seen the many news stories about the winter NHS crisis and the struggle to cope with extra demands placed on services and you may be wondering how Strathcarron Hospice manages in these circumstances. Every year the demand for our services increases and in the last 10 years we have managed an increase of 30 per cent in referrals to the Hospice and our Strathcarron Community Nurse Specialists have had an increase of 55 per cent in new patients needing their care and support. Of course, as with the NHS staff, we have had our fair share of flu, coughs and colds over the last few weeks which has been challenging. Many staff met this challenge head-on by cancelling holidays over Christmas and New Year which meant we always had enough people to keep all services running as normal. We are so proud of the commitment demonstrated by our special team. The Hospice nearly always has a waiting list for admissions and the 24 beds are usually full to capacity. As delays in admission are critical for people in need of our specialist services we developed our [email protected] service, which provides nursing care people’s own homes to avoid admission or enable discharge home from hospital or hospice when a patient really wants to die at home, surrounded by everyone and everything they love. It would be devastating for us, as your local hospice, not to be able to provide services at a time when it is needed most for patients and their families. This has meant we have increased our staffing levels to meet the ever increasing demand. With this comes a financial cost but people are at the heart of everything we do and as a dynamic organisation we will work hard to meet the demands then worry about how this will be funded. This for us is the right way to respond.