Proposed changes - FAQs

Thank you to everyone who has already taken the time to read about the proposals we announced on Wednesday 31 July, 2019.

The response from our local community is a reminder of the special place St Margaret’s occupies in many people’s hearts after nearly 40 years of caring in Somerset. This has meant a huge amount to all of our staff, who feel privileged to serve the people of Somerset, whether within the In-patient Units, in their own homes or elsewhere.

We thought it would be useful to answer a few frequently asked questions.

What’s happening?

We are proposing to make some changes to our services to ensure a sustainable future for hospice care in Somerset.

If the proposals go ahead, there would be:

  • a single in-patient Unit at our Taunton site with 16 beds, up from the current 12, with no in-patient beds at our Yeovil site
  • an expanded community team caring for patients across the county, with increased provision specifically for people living in the Yeovil area

As well as providing a base for our community team, the Yeovil site would continue to provide outpatient services and day hospice facilities, including the Sunflower Centre, physiotherapy, complementary therapies, lymphoedema services, support groups, spiritual care, bereavement and family support.

All services currently provided at the Taunton hospice would also continue.

Please read our full statement here for more details.

So is the Yeovil hospice closing?

No. It is important to stress that if these proposals go ahead, all outpatient services and day hospice facilities at our Yeovil site will continue, while more nurses will be joining our community team, enabling us to care for more people in the Yeovil area.

As many people will know, patients and carers visit our Yeovil site for physiotherapy, complementary therapies, support groups, spiritual care, bereavement and family support, lymphoedema treatment and other outpatient appointments. All of these services will continue to be provided at our Yeovil site.

Has a decision already been made?

No. We are beginning a formal consultation process with all staff potentially affected by these proposed changes. During this process we will consider any alternative proposals put forward by the unions representing those staff.

Why are you proposing these changes?

Put simply, to ensure St Margaret’s Hospice Care has a sustainable future, so we can continue supporting patients and families in the Yeovil area and across Somerset for many years to come.

There are a number of factors behind the need for change:

Financial pressures

The amount of money we spend on clinical services is increasing, and so is the demand for our care.

For the last decade our NHS core funding has flat-lined and now covers just under a third of the costs of delivering our care. Our hard-working fundraising and retail teams are also operating in a very challenging economic climate.

Last year, income from the NHS, donations, events, shops and other sources did not cover the costs of providing our care, leaving us increasingly reliant on generous legacies in order to break even. Gifts left in wills are an important but unpredictable source of income, and it is not sustainable for us to start each year with a deficit budget in the hope that legacies will plug the gap.

Since 2016 we have launched a number of initiatives to increase income, while making efficiency savings. However, we also need to review how we provide our care to ensure it is sustainable.

St Margaret’s is not alone in this. You can read more about the financial pressures facing hospices across the UK here.

Recruitment challenges

Maintaining safe staffing levels across two In-patient Units has become increasingly difficult. Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and St Margaret’s Hospice have been unable to fill medical vacancies on which we rely. This has impacted on our ability to ensure adequate medical staffing cover, and in the Yeovil In-patient Unit we have recently had to reduce our available beds from 12 to 10.

The right model of care

These proposals are designed to provide the right care for people in Somerset now and in the future.

Supporters will remember our Fit for Future review. During the last four years, we have engaged with the Somerset community, end-of-life care experts and representatives of the local healthcare economy to review the services we provide to patients and their families. The key finding was that the hospice needed to focus on providing care closer to, or in, patients’ homes, in order to reach more people with specialist needs and respond to the wishes of patients and carers. Most people tell us they want to remain supported at home if possible.

How can I find out more?

You can find out more about the background to these proposals here.

We will also be holding a public information event from 6.30pm to 8pm on Wednesday 14 August, at the Octagon Theatre in Hendford, Yeovil, BA20 1UX.

Please note: In light of the anticipated turnout, we have changed the time and venue to enable more people to attend.

How can I have my say?

If you would like to comment on the proposals, please email

We will read every email and publish answers to frequently asked questions on our website in the coming weeks.

Thank you for your interest.



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