St Margaret’s Hospice Care has begun consulting staff on proposed changes to its services to ensure a sustainable future for hospice care in Somerset.

The charity is proposing to remodel its services so that there is a single In-patient Unit at its Taunton site, increasing the number of beds there from 12 to 16, with no in-patient beds at its Yeovil site.

At the same time, the community team caring for patients across the county would be expanded, with increased provision of these services for people living in the Yeovil area.

As well as providing a base for the 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.

The proposal is in response to the charity’s Fit for Future review, as well as staffing challenges faced in the county and an increasingly unsustainable financial position.

Ann Lee, CEO of St Margaret’s Hospice Care, said: “We believe the changes we are proposing today are necessary to ensure we can continue to deliver outstanding care to people facing life-limiting illnesses across Somerset while living within our means.

“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 of our Fit for Future review 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, and 85 per cent of our patients are already cared for in the community.

“Bringing all our in-patient beds under one roof in Taunton will help to overcome ongoing recruitment challenges, which have made it increasingly difficult for us to ensure adequate medical staffing cover at our Yeovil In-patient Unit.

“The amount of money we spend on clinical services is increasing, and so is the demand for our care. NHS funding currently covers 31 per cent of the costs of delivering our care, resulting in us relying heavily on the generosity and support of our local community.

“In common with many hospices across the UK, our fundraising and retail teams are experiencing a very challenging economic climate. We have been working hard to grow our income and control costs, but we also need to review our clinical services to ensure St Margaret’s Hospice Care has a sustainable future.

“We know any change can be unsettling, and our priority is to support our staff potentially affected by this proposal and assure our patients and families that their ongoing care will not be affected.”

The changes proposed by St Margaret’s would result in approximately 50 staff being placed at risk of redundancy, including clinical, catering, estates and housekeeping roles. It is expected there will be opportunities for redeployment, with roles being created in the community team and the Taunton In-patient Unit.

Ann said: “We recognise that this will be an unsettling time, particularly for those staff directly affected by this proposal, and we are doing everything we can to support them.

“We also understand that our loyal supporters will want to know why we are proposing these changes, so we will be holding a drop-in information session to give people a chance to find out more and ask questions.”

We will be holding a public information event on Wednesday, August 14. Please note: In light of the anticipated turnout, we have changed the time and venue to enable more people to attend. This will now be held from 6.30pm to 8pm at the Octagon Theatre in Hendford, Yeovil, BA20 1UX.

For those of you who are unable to attend we will be live streaming the event from 6.30pm. If you would like to view the event live please visit http://bit.ly/live-stream-information-evening. A recording of this event will also be available to watch next week.

If you have any feedback or questions, please contact us on [email protected]

To read more information on the proposed changes to our services click here.