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Hospice sorry over care threat

A hospice has apologised after a member of staff threatened to withhold care from a member of the public in a row over a planning application.

The threat came after an argument on Facebook over Essex-based Havens Hospices' plans to build a new £15 million home on greenbelt land in Leigh.

Commenting on criticism of the plans by site user Barry Jones, hospice employee Nicki Smith wrote a four-letter insult, then commented she would remember his name if it "ever comes up on the referral board and there's only one bed left". She also told him he "won't be welcome" if Havens managed to build its new hospice.

Mr Jones told the Basildon Echo he was "surprised and disappointed" by the remarks.

The hospice said Ms Smith was a junior employee who had no input into referral decisions. An investigation has been launched and "appropriate action" would be taken.

Chief executive Andy Smith said: "We are shocked and appalled that a member of our staff appears to have acted in this way.

"There has been much debate about our plans to build a new hospice and we have been open to listening to all views, but offensive comments, including abuse and threats to deny access to care, are completely unacceptable.

"Patients in need of a bed at the hospice are assessed on their clinical needs only, by a team of specialist nurses and doctors. We do not discriminate. On behalf of the organisation, I must extend our unreserved apology to Mr Jones and to those offended by the content in question."

Mr Jones added that the threat "shows the hospice in a bad light". He said: "If that's an example of their attitude, it's a little self-serving. It's not what you would expect."

Havens' bid to use greenbelt land off Belton Way West, Leigh, for a new adults' hospice was rejected by Southend Council last week. The charity, which runs Fair Havens Hospice and Little Havens Children's Hospice, plans to appeal against the decision.


From Belfast Telegraph