We are aware that an anonymous letter has been sent to our Trustees and the local media, and are saddened that it appears someone from within the charity has chosen to do this.
The allegations are completely untrue. We welcome the passion the writer shows for hospice care but they are misinformed, and this undermines our well-loved local charity, the phenomenal care and support that our patients and their families rely on, and the staff and volunteers who devote their time in giving it.
For us hospice care is about directing support to those who most need it. As a charity, we are always mindful of how much things cost. Even the smallest of things are worth reviewing if it improves care for patients, or helps us use money better. We have suggested moving biscuits into patient bedrooms, and into the kitchen, like you'd have at home. Relatives and visitors are greeted by someone welcoming them to the hospice and offering them care and support, which, of course, includes a cup of tea and piece of cake or a biscuit.
So our decisions are not made solely on spending less; it is about making sure the money – given to us in good faith – can have the greatest impact, because our staff and volunteers are all here for the same reason - to support and care for those who need us. The hospices are unique in that we are the only place in the area wholly dedicated to caring for people at the end of their lives.
We have always been open and honest with our supporters and have nothing to hide. We welcome interest and scrutiny in how the charity is being run and rightly so – we can only care because the majority of our income is voluntarily given to us by supporters in the community.
With this transparency in mind, we have answered every allegation within the letter, detailed below:
- Removing biscuits and cake for patients and families The Charity has not removed snacks for patients and families. Rather than in the communal lounge/reception area, we have discussed moving them into the bedrooms so they’re easier to access for patients, or available directly from our kitchens, as you would at home.
- Expensive Recruitment Head-hunters
For some key posts we will ask recruitment agencies to help us find the right people. But in the case of our two most recent recruitments for our Director of Care and Director of Facilities and New Fair Havens, they both heard about the vacancies via word of mouth and had no contact with recruitment agencies; therefore no recruitment fee was paid to an external agency.
Our Director of Care, Helen Forster, has extensive knowledge having commissioned children’s palliative care through her role in the Clinical Commissioning Group, and was Chair of Southend, Essex and Thurrock Children’s Palliative Care Network. We are proud to attract people like Helen to work at Havens Hospices who bring a wealth of experience that can only benefit those we care for.
- Expenditure has increased
Our total expenditure has increased over the last five years but by under half the £2.5 million year on year claimed. Within this, spend has increased on our care services across both hospices, especially as we see increases in the number of people who need our care, and the complexity of their conditions. For example:
- Possum technology in rooms at Fair Havens and Little Havens, giving patients more control and independence over their environment
- Successfully piloted a new ‘Managed Care Service’ to enable patients in hospital approaching the end of the lives to be cared for at home
- Blood transfusions delivered in our day hospice
- Refurbishment at Fair Havens in 2010 from eight to 10 beds which are constantly in use
- Number of children we are caring for at Little Havens has increased by more than 13% compared to last year
- Grown the Family Support team to give more care
- Implemented the NHS database SystmOne which incurred a significant one-off cost but means we can now share vital information with other healthcare providers, meaning we can start treating patients as soon as they arrive rather than waiting for their physical notes to arrive.
All of this expansion in our care has happened despite a 16% reduction in statutory funding over the last five years.
- Increase in ‘pen pushers’ 75% of the people who work at Havens Hospices are volunteers, who give their time for free. In fact, across our support staff in HR, Finance and Executive Team, we now have 9% less paid staff than we did five years ago.
- We are proud of the robustness of our ‘governance’ which ensures that we are a professionally run charity that supporters, patients and families trust. Our Board of Trustees are all unpaid volunteers and bring with them a wealth of experience in finance, management, medical care and fundraising. Although the day-to-day matters are dealt with by our Directors and team managers, it is the Trustees who hold overall responsibility for the charity.
- New Fair Havens
The only money used for new Fair Havens so far are those that have been designated for this purpose or restricted by the donors themselves.
For further information please contact: Amy Dearing on 01702 220301