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Care was second to none

I should like, through your pages, to pay tribute to the amazing HAD (hospitalisation à domicile) service provided by the Louis Pasteur Hospital in Cherbourg and its associated hospital in Valognes.

This team of more than 20 nurses and aides, which cares for patients in their own homes, with full hospital facilities, provides health care of a standard rarely seen today anywhere in the western world.

These devoted men and women have, over a five-month period, recently helped me to care for a partner who suffered from three incapacitating and terminal pathologies.

They were, without exception, unfailingly compassionate, amazingly patient, professionally knowledgeable and superbly informed about every aspect of his needs. Always smiling, they were available day or night and were our very welcome visitors twice a day.

They made him laugh. They provided comfort for him and hope for me that his inevitable demise would be peaceful and pain free, and the dignity and tenderness offered to us when that end came gave us much consolation. I admire and am grateful to them all.

It is hard to avoid comparisons with the parlous standard of home care now normally available in the UK and the cost and scarcity of similar help in the USA and Australia. In this case at least, nursing in France seems to have remained the vocation it was in England 60 years ago, with the patient at the centre of the equation.

Diana SHARPE, Valognes

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