Support groups face closure after Dalziel Centre cutbacks

Members of the MS Support Group at their Christmas lunch.
Members of the MS Support Group at their Christmas lunch.

Two support groups for MS sufferers and cancer patients could be forced to disband due to the closure of a day hospice facility in Motherwell.

The Cancer Care Group and MS Support Group have been meeting at the Dalziel Centre at Strathclyde Hospital on Wednesdays and Thursdays respectively.

But because NHS Lanarkshire is now only opening the centre two days a week from now on, the groups have been forced to look for alternative premises, so far without success.

MS Group volunteer Isabel Jardine said; “We have been trying churches and community centres to see if we can get something suitable or else they are going to end up isolated in their own homes.

“Our group members come from all over - Motherwell, Bellshill, Wishaw, Larkhall. We meet every Thursday and have so many that we have to split them into two groups, morning and afternoon, with about 30 people at each.

“They can come along and have a tea or coffee, meet up with the MS nurse, sometimes have a game of bingo and so on.

“The group allows them to get out of their own homes and get the support of people with the same problems and experiences.

“We have been here for four years and have searched everywhere for suitable alternative premises. Our only requirements really are wheelchair access and tea or cofee making facilities.”

The Cancer Care Group is in a similar position, as patient Sandra Tollan explained.

She said: “People with cancer go along and get their lunch and enjoy the support of other people in the same situation.

“We meet on a Wednesday and have about 16 members and the group members have a bond with each other. For them the group is a lifeline.

“For some it’s the only day they can get out and they can lean on each other for support and even make a comment or crack a joke that they wouldn’t do in front of their families.

“We have looked but have been unable to find suitable alternative accommodation and unless we do the group would have to stop.”

A spokesperson for NHS Lanarkshire said both groups were peer support groups run by members with the only input from NHS Lanarkshire being the use of the Dalziel Centre premises.

He added: “We recognise the valued social support provided by both groups. However, as neither group has an input from health staff there is no longer a need to meet in healthcare premises.

“We have actively supported both groups with the transition. This has included members of the Cancer Support Group being reviewed by MacMillan Nurses to identify any ongoing support needs.

“The group identified alternative premises and we offered to provide the first year costs for this. However, we now understand they are looking at other options.

“NHS Lanarkshire’s MS nurses met with the MS support group to discuss the move and offer support.

“The Dalziel Centre was formerly a day hospital for cancer patients. It is now recognised that this is no longer the most appropriate model of support.

“This is better provided by other Lanarkshire services such as MacMillan Nurses, the new the Maggie’s Centre at Monklands Hospital, The Haven, St Andrews Hospice and Kilbryde Hospice.

“The neighbouring Lymphodema Clinic and fortnightly consultant clinic will continue at the Dalziel Centre until alternative suitable premises are identified.”