St Margaret’s Hospice Care has welcomed the Charity Commission’s conclusion that our board of trustees acted appropriately in making the difficult decision to remodel our services, including closing our Yeovil In-patient Unit, last year.
The regulator opened a regulatory compliance case in October 2019 to assess whether our trustees had followed proper processes. Having requested and reviewed documents and information provided by St Margaret’s, the Commission has today (Wednesday 15 January) concluded that our trustees made an informed decision consistent with charity law.
I hope that our findings here will bring some comfort to people in the local community that the charity has not acted recklessly or carelessly, but took a considered approach to ensure the charity’s long-term ability to continue helping people
The Commission was satisfied that St Margaret’s trustees had, over several years, undertaken a comprehensive county wide review, Fit for Future, consulted widely with stakeholders, undertaken research and taken advice from experts in palliative and end of life care.
Overall, the Commission found that our trustees demonstrated a desire to act in the best interests of the charity and the community we serve, and that the charity’s mission and purpose guided their decision-making. The Commission also examined the trustees’ decisions about our charity’s commercial ventures, and established that these had no direct impact on the need to remodel our services.
Tracy Howarth, head of regulatory compliance at the Charity Commission, said: “Clearly this was a significant decision that affects people’s lives, so it is right that we have examined it closely. I hope that our findings here will bring some comfort to people in the local community that the charity has not acted recklessly or carelessly, but took a considered approach to ensure the charity’s long-term ability to continue helping people.
“We recognise that many, particularly in the Yeovil area, will be unhappy with the charity’s decision, however trustees do from time to time have to make difficult decisions to ensure that their charity best meets the needs of current and future beneficiaries and remains financially sustainable.”
Responding to the findings, Jonathan Langdon, chairman of St Margaret’s Hospice Care, said: “We welcome the Charity Commission’s conclusion that our decision to remodel our services was properly made, in accordance with its guidance, and informed by accurate, up-to-date information.
We hope these findings will reassure people that this difficult decision was taken after careful consideration, and in the best interests of the long-term future of our charity and the community we serve
“Following a thorough review, the Commission has found that our board of trustees acted appropriately and followed proper procedures throughout the lengthy consultation and decision-making process which led to the closure of our Yeovil In-patient Unit last year. It has also confirmed that the need to remodel our services was not linked to our investment in new commercial ventures.
“We hope these findings will reassure people that this difficult decision was taken after careful consideration, and in the best interests of the long-term future of our charity and the community we serve.”
Jonathan added: “Our priority remains ensuring a sustainable future for hospice care in Somerset. We will continue to use our resources to reach as many people as possible who need our specialist care and support, so they do not have to face a life-limiting illness alone.
“Now this case has concluded, we are focused on rolling out a model of hospice care that is fit for the future. This includes investing in expanding our community team in the Yeovil area and our In-patient Unit in Taunton, so that it can accommodate more patients from across Somerset who need this intensive palliative care. We are currently recruiting to fill key roles – something we were not able to do until we knew the outcome of the consultation process and had fully explored opportunities for redeployment with all affected staff.
“As St Margaret’s celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, we are working hard to ensure we can meet the rising demand for our care in the years ahead.”
The full report from the Charity Commission can be read here.
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