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Norman Lamb MP performs opening ceremony

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The opening ceremony took place 12.30pm on Friday July 22nd, in front of 100 invited guests and dignitaries including key local people, major donors, staff and volunteers as well as members of NHS Norfolk who have been enormously supportive in the development of our business plans. Norman Lamb is an advocate for patient-focused healthcare and has been a longstanding supporter of Wells Community Hospital.

He said: “I am very proud to have been asked to open this fantastic facility. The achievements and dedication of everyone involved in the Wells Community Hospital project are truly inspiring. This is an excellent cause and I am glad to be able to help. It is a big step towards the govenment's ideal of delivering health and social care closer to home. Wells Hospital has been mentioned in a white paper as a model of community care".

Jonathan Hazell, Chair of the Wells Community Hospital Trust said: “I am delighted that having received Care Quality Commission registration the Mermaid Centre has been open 6 days a week and our first patients are enjoying a wonderful holiday in North Norfolk with peace of mind. Starting with patients on holiday is a necessary and important prelude to offering this service to local patients. Holiday dialysis opens the North Norfolk Coast to over 20,000 patients and their families in the UK who currently rely mainly on available spaces at NHS hospitals for holiday breaks. I am so grateful to the donors, volunteers and staff who have made this possible, but especially to the Geering family who have organised the appeal”

Sophie Geering said her mother suffered kidney failure because of a blood disorder and was on dialysis for 2 years. The name 'Mermaid Unit' was a wonderful reminder of the star mermaid role played by Helen Geering at the very popular village Christmas show, The family also felt it was a joyful and uplifting name for patients needing dialysis. Holiday dialysis was important because of the need to make every provision to give patients with kidney failure as rich and fulfilling a life as possible.

The Mermaid Dialysis Unit is initially offering renal dialysis to people holidaying in North Norfolk. As the unit expands, it will seek to offer the service to local people. At the moment NHS patients receive dialysis at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, Cromer Hospital or The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Kings Lynn.