East Lancashire Hospice

Doctor Merton Seigleman

Doctor Merton Seigleman

Doctor Merton Seigleman - Founder 

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In the early days of East Lancashire Hospice, one individual stands out for his extraordinary dedication and vision—Dr. Seigleman, whose personal experience and professional journey laid the foundation for what the hospice has become today. 

Dr. Seigleman’s story began in 1939 when, at just 16 years old, he witnessed his mother endure immense pain from inoperable breast cancer. Driven by a desire to alleviate suffering, Dr. Seigleman qualified as a doctor in 1953 specialising as a consultant anaesthetist, focusing on pain relief. 

In 1961, Dr. Seigleman became a consultant at Blackburn Infirmary, where he continued his studies in pain relief. Inspired by Dame Cicely Saunders' work at St. Christopher’s Hospice in London, he found his calling in hospice care 

In 1981, a public meeting was arranged by the Community Health Council at Blackburn College where Dr. Seigleman was looking into the possibility of providing a hospice to serve the local community. The response from the meeting was overwhelming and as a result, the East Lancashire Hospice Appeal became a reality. 

His perseverance paid off when a public meeting led to the agreement that if the community could fund the hospice's construction, the NHS would support its operation. Through tireless fundraising efforts, £700,000 was raised, and on May 12, 1983, Dr. Seigleman laid the foundation stone for the hospice. 

East Lancashire Hospice officially opened on June 21, 1984, with Dr. Seigleman at the helm. Dr. Seigleman’s dedication saw him working long hours between Blackburn Infirmary and the hospice, often treating patients after official hours. He retired from hospital anaesthesia in 1988 but continued to serve the hospice until 1993. His commitment was driven by passion rather than duty. 

Even in retirement, Dr. Seigleman pursued further education, earning degrees in history and social sciences in his seventies and eighties. His contributions to hospice care were recognised with an OBE in 1985. 

Dr. Seigleman’s story is a testament to the profound impact one individual can have on a community. His relentless pursuit of pain relief and compassionate care has shaped East Lancashire Hospice; caring for those with life-limiting illnesses and their families over the past four decades. 

“Dame Cicely was a wonderful woman. She chose the word hospice because the original hospices were resting places for travellers. She took the view that hospices would be a resting place for people ready to go to the next stage in their lives, travelling from this world to the next.”

Reference - https://­www.­lancas­hire­tel­egraph.­co.­uk/­news/­8919570.­amazing-story-east-lancashire-hospice-founder/