Free legal advice for hospice patients

A SUFFOLK hospice is piloting a new scheme where local solicitors will hold regular legal surgeries to give free advice to patients and their families.

James Mortlock

A SUFFOLK hospice is piloting a new scheme where local solicitors will hold regular legal surgeries to give free advice to patients and their families.

Starting this month, for a trial period of six months, a different solicitor will be on duty at St Nicholas Hospice, Bury St Edmunds.

Bosses say the idea is for patients to have an opportunity to discuss any legal matter that might be troubling them in a relaxed and informal setting but with complete privacy and for free.


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Barbara Gale, hospice chief executive, said: “When you are faced with a life-limiting illness all sorts of matters take on a different significance and there is sometimes a need to 'put your house in order'.

“When you have various doctor's appointments to attend you may not have the energy to make yet another appointment. You might also wonder if it is important enough to make a solicitor's appointment. St Nicholas Hospice Care wants to do as much as possible to help our patients and their families achieve peace of mind.

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“As we had a good relationship with local solicitors through a wills week organised by our legacy officer, Margaret Lee, we asked her to approach local solicitors.”

Margaret said she was amazed at the response. “Seventeen local solicitors were interested in helping our patients in this way and ten of them came to a meeting at the end of December. We were really encouraged by how supportive they were.

“As someone said at the meeting, it might be something simple like the neighbour's fence blowing down and you don't know what to do about it, or something minor in a will that could be worrying you. We hope that by talking to a solicitor at the legal surgery any concerns will be resolved.”

Some solicitors have also agreed to give consultations over the phone making it even easier for our patients and their families to receive free legal advice.

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