PLANS have been unveiled for the region’s first hospice unit for young adults.

Managers at the Butterwick Hospice in Stockton are applying for Government funding to build the unit which would cost £600,000.

The new hospice area would have two bedrooms, a specialist bedroom and a consulting room.

Graham Leggatt-Chidgey, chief executive of the Butterwick Hospice, explained that a lot of children with terminal illnesses and conditions were living longer.

At the same time some of the young people, aged in their late teens and early 20s, are less used to the adult world than contemporaries and can be more child-like. Furthermore, many people in more usual adult hospices can be elderly with different needs.

Mr Leggatt-Chidgey said: “Accommodation for this category of patient is poor across the country, and there is nothing like this north of Wetherby.

“Improvements in medical treatments and interventions mean that many young people with a life limiting illness live longer and this unit will provide a much more suitable environment and a bridge between the children’s and adult facilities.”

The Butterwick Hospice has applied to the Department of Health for the money for the new unit which would be an extension of the current building which houses both the adult and children's hospices. A decision is expected by the end of March. If successful the hospice will lodge a planning application to Stockton Borough Council.

Butterwick, which also runs an adult hospice in Bishop Auckland, would apply to the NHS for running costs for the new unit. The charity must already raise about £3.7m a year.

The proposed unit has been designed by architects Leigh Cooper Associates who became involved with Butterwick Hospice in 1994 and offer £5,000-worth of free work every year.

Mr Leigh Cooper said: "From the outset, it was clear that Butterwick’s vision for patient care led the way and it was shortly after the completion of the new Adult Hospice that we received the commission for the design of the Children’s Unit.

“So we’re delighted to be involved in the design and execution of the transitional unit, which will bridge the gap from child to adulthood. There is a huge gap in Britain in the provision of respite care for this age group.”