PUTTING patients first was the key message at an event to celebrate a new partnership at the Countess of Brecknock Hospice.

About 50 people attended to hear how the NHS and the hospice’s trustees have created a comprehensive service for terminally ill cancer patients and their loved ones.

Originally established solely from charitable funds, the hospice has been providing palliative care since 1990.

Mrs Mary Fagan, Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire and chairman of the Countess of Brecknock Hospice Trustees, welcomed guests, who included Cllr Brian Page, Mayor of Test Valley, volunteers who have been supporting the hospice since its launch and staff who deliver the service to patients.

She said: “I am thrilled that after all our negotiations we have a wonderful service in place to support people at such an important time in their lives.”

The new model of community based palliative care encompasses a wide range of care at the hospice, including medical, psychological, spiritual and therapy services. There are six inpatient beds and a range of daycare facilities. This aspect of the service is provided seven days a week by GPs from Andover Health Centre Medical Practice and staff at the hospice which is run by Winchester and Eastleigh Healthcare NHS Trust.

There is also a comprehensive service for terminally ill cancer patients who are in their own homes or nursing homes.

This is provided by consultants and Macmillan nurses from the North Hampshire Palliative Care Service.

The new service model is funded by the COBH Trustees and Hampshire Primary Care Trust.