IT MAY be a work in progress, but the £775,000 scheme to expand Basildon’s St Luke’s Hospice is coming along on time and on budget.

Building work for an extension to the hospice began in October.

The development will see a two-storey annexe adjoining the existing hospice building in Nethermayne to provide even more care facilities for south Essex patients living with life-limiting illnesses.

Over the past six months walls and scaffolding have gone up, the ground and first floors are in place, stairwells have been built as well as a lift shaft, the roof and sky-light.

An undercover walk-way is now under construction and the car-park area has also been re-shaped.

Patients were asked for their input as part of the plans and even helped to design the new facility which is on track to open this June.

The work is being carried out by Basildon-based, Forest Gate Construction. In the coming months workmen will be creating the internal space, dividing the building into activity areas and offices for extended day hospice care and out-patient clinics.

A specialist physiotherapy service, a much bigger library offering more than 200 audio books, information hub and improved complementary therapies and clinical facilities will also be set up inside the new annexe.

Chris Cox, head of corporate services at St Luke’s said: “We are delighted with the way work is progressing and I am pleased to say we are on schedule and on budget.

“Building projects of this significance are bound to cause organisational disruptions.

Everyone has adapted their routines and ways of working to support what needs to be done, we are grateful to staff, visitors, neighbours and our contractors for their understanding and cooperation.

‘’One of the most pleasing outcomes so far is the way this project has been managed and co-ordinated by all those involved and the hospice’s adaptable approach.

“There has been no disruption to patient care, and services have continued to be maintained to high or increasing levels as we are starting to introduce and expand services which will fully utilise our new facilities.’’ The hospice is almost entirely self-funded and has secured several trusts and grants to pay for the expansion Eileen Marshall, chief executive officer of the hospice said the development makes a new chapter for the hospice, which opened 20 years ago and needs to raise around £3million a year to keep going.

She added: ‘’Everyone at the hospice is looking forward to the opening of our new annexe. We are hoping to be able to move in by June and have an official opening later in the summer.

“ Our primary concern is to ensure the smooth and improved provision of patient care, support and information services.

“We are also excited about the future opportunities for palliative care having this new facility will enable us to bring to our community.’’