In the late 1960s, a modern hospice was opened in South East London by a woman who is regarded by many as the founder of the hospice movement in this country, Dame Cicely Saunders. Her work as an almoner and subsequently as a nurse and doctor had persuaded her that those coping with terminal illness needed a special kind of caring. By the mid 1980s, specialist palliative care was recognised as a medical specialty in its own right and in 1987,
On the site of the old infectious diseases ward of Ealing Hospital, Meadow House Hospice was opened. Founded by Maria Brennan MBE, it was initially staffed solely by nurses who went on to create the ethos and establish the different arms of the service.
Meadow House, which takes its name from the Meadow Butterfly, opened in 1987 and was one of the first NHS hospices in the country. This was as a result of the continued development of the established community palliative care team in identifying the need for a hospice in the Borough of Ealing. The building, which was originally a tuberculosis unit and part of Ealing Hospital, was opened in 1979 and was largely under used. The government at the time required Ealing Hospital to reduce the number of acute beds and therefore the building, then known as Ward 1, was given to the community unit to set up as a hospice. At this time Ealing Hospital, the Community Unit and St Bernard’s Hospital were part of Ealing, Hammersmith & Hounslow Health Authority (EHHHA).
In 1990, Ealing Hospital became a Trust and in 1994 the Community and Mental Health Unit combined to make up West London Healthcare NHS Trust. The remit for the hospice at this time was to provide care solely for Ealing residents.
Whilst some capital funding was available, a trust was set up for donations and contributions from the local community to help with additional patient comforts. Additional beds, day hospice and an education unit were needed and, together with Macmillan Cancer Relief, an appeal was launched to raise £1.2 million to refurbish the old building and complete the new building. EHHHA undertook to meet the revenue costs. The work took place between July 1995 and May 1996. Once reopened the facility was made available to both Hounslow and Ealing residents.
Having completed the additional building to house Day Hospice, there were as ever difficulties securing its full funding. However, a combination of a large legacy supported by an incremental investment by EHHHA meant Day Hospice fully opened in 1998.
In April 1999 Meadow House became part of Hounslow and Spelthorne Community and Mental Health NHS Trust, and the Hounslow Palliative Care Team moved into the building and so the integrated palliative care service for Ealing and Hounslow was complete.
In 2001 a conservatory was added to the facilities and a total refurbishment of the in-patient unit commenced, being completed in 2002. In October 2014 Meadow House came under the auspices of London North West Healthcare NHS Trust.
London North West Healthcare NHS Trust now incorporates Brent, Ealing and Harrow Community Services