Thank you to everyone who came along to our public information event at the Octagon Theatre on Wednesday 14 August to find out more about our proposals and have your say.
If you weren’t able to make it, the meeting is still available to watch on our YouTube channel.
At the meeting, we outlined the changes we are proposing to make to safeguard the future of our charity. If these proposals go ahead, St Margaret’s Hospice Care would have a single 16-bed In-patient Unit in Taunton, supporting patients from across the county, with no provision for In-patient beds at our Yeovil site.
All other services at our Yeovil site would continue.
We would also increase the number of staff supporting patients in the community, with extra capacity in the Yeovil area.
You can read our announcement of the proposals here.
CEO Ann Lee: “The turnout and the strength of feeling evident during the meeting prove that many people share our passionate belief that high quality, compassionate end of life care should be available to those in our community who need it.
“We would welcome any ideas about how we can all work together to ensure a sustainable future for hospice care in Yeovil and across Somerset.”
If you have any feedback or questions, please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org
Is this a done deal?
No. The formal consultation process with our staff and unions is continuing, and we will consider any workable alternative proposals which are put forward.
Why wasn’t the public meeting held in a bigger venue?
In light of the anticipated turnout, we changed the time and venue of the event to enable more people to attend. The Octagon Theatre was the biggest venue in Yeovil available at short notice. Westlands was unavailable.
The event was live streamed on our YouTube channel to give anyone who couldn’t attend a chance to watch.
Why are you proposing to retain the In-patient Unit in Taunton and not Yeovil?
St Margaret’s Hospice Care serves a population of 500,000 in an area stretching from Exmoor to Frome and Chard to Cheddar. All major towns in our patch, including Glastonbury, Bridgwater, Minehead and Yeovil, are within 28 miles of Taunton, with Wells equidistant from Taunton and Yeovil. Our Taunton hospice is closer to the centre of the area we serve and to major transport links.
The west of the county has the higher population densities, and conversely the most remote districts, a more elderly population and areas of highest deprivation, including transport poverty.
Taunton is accessible to the M5 route between Bristol and Exeter, approximately 45-60 minutes between each city and a commutable distance for staff not living within the county.
Why weren’t we told sooner that in-patient beds in Yeovil were at risk?
It is essential that, as an employer, we consult fully with our staff and their union representatives in the first instance about changes which may result in them potentially being placed at risk of redundancy.
As St Margaret’s Hospice Care recognises unions and there are more than 20 employees potentially affected under this proposal, we are in group consultation with these unions. We are actively engaging with unions and will be considering all alternative proposals that staff put forward to us through those unions.
It is worth stressing that St Margaret’s Hospice Care is not in a financial crisis. The proposals we have announced are a proactive step to ensure our long-term financial sustainability, in response to the trends we and other charities are facing, as well as staffing challenges and the need to ensure our services are fit for the future. We are acting now from a position of strength so that we don’t end up in the sort of crisis situation which has sadly forced other hospices to close.
Are you planning to sell the Yeovil site?
Should these proposals go ahead, our Yeovil site would continue to be used as a base for our community team and the wide range of outpatient and day hospice services, which will all continue to operate there as they do now.
We are fully committed to continuing to provide community and outpatient services based at the Yeovil hospice site. Therefore, the site is not for sale.
We are not speaking to anyone with a view to selling the site, nor have we received any offers to buy it. Indeed, we have made representations to South Somerset District Council regarding vehicular access and planting, in order to protect the land for the future use of the hospice and provide better privacy in the event of any neighbouring development.
Why did you spend money establishing a funeral business?
As well as being an extension of our care to families in Somerset, our funeral service is one of the new income generation initiatives to emerge from our Fit for Future review.
As with any new commercial venture, such as opening a new shop, this is an investment made with a view to generating future profits to help fund the care provided by St Margaret’s Hospice Care.
Opening a funeral home has benefited our patients and their families by providing a logical extension of the care the hospice delivers, plugging the gap between our care to patients and the bereavement support we provide to families. In the longer term, it will further benefit patients as profits are reinvested in funding the care provided by the hospice.
Hospice Funerals LLP was established to develop and market a funeral service model to other hospices across the UK. Its accounts do not reflect the trading performance of St Margaret’s Funerals. Our Taunton funeral home, which opened in January 2018, is performing in line with expectations, with year-on-year growth and excellent reviews from families who have used the service. We plan to continue growing our funeral business to deliver a sustainable income for the hospice in the future.
How can we support St Margaret’s Hospice?
If you would like to help us continue caring for people in Somerset who are facing a life-limiting illness, there are a variety of ways you can support our work, including:
Our friendly fundraising team will be happy to advise and support you with any fundraising activities.
We are aware of individuals or companies who may be soliciting donations or selling merchandise in connection with our Yeovil hospice. Please note that they are unaffiliated with St Margaret’s Hospice Care and we do not know what will happen to any such funds.
What happens next?
Our trustees and executive team will be meeting in the coming weeks to consider the feedback we have received since we announced our proposals. The formal consultation process with staff and unions is continuing, and we will consider any workable alternative proposals which are put forward.