Helen and Douglas House to stop adult hospice care to cut costs

Hospice care for adults at Douglas House will end in August
Hospice care for adults at Douglas House will end in August

Helen and Douglas House will be stopping hospice care for adults and cutting around 60 jobs by closing one of its two hubs in a bid to save money, with its shop in Banbury under review.

The Oxford hospice, which provides end-of-life care for people across the region, will be stopping care at Douglas House and losing 40 per cent of its workforce.

Chair of trustees Elizabeth Drew blamed a shortfall in funding and a ‘challenging and highly competitive fundraising environment’ for the cost-cutting.

“We have been working for some time to reduce our operating costs and despite savings made last year we reluctantly conclude that these were not sufficient to sustain the organisation for the long term,” she said.

“We are therefore adopting a prudent approach to reduce the service in line with what we can afford in order to keep the hospice open.

“The changes we are about to make will ensure the charity is able to provide specialist palliative care to terminally ill children, young people and their families for decades to come.

“This was the unanimous decision of the board, with one abstention.

“We are confident that this places the organisation on a firm foundation from where it can evolve to meet the emerging needs of our young patients.

“We are grateful for all the support we get from the local community and now, more than ever, we need you.”

The hospice currently spends £5.2m in order to run the hospice and for at least the past seven years it has been running at a deficit, using reserve savings which are reducing year on year.

A review of its 37 charity shops across the country will also take place, putting the Banbury branch under threat of closure. The shop in Chipping Norton closed last year.

Cuts would also be made around the senior leadership team, with changes to palliative care taking effect in August.

The charity called on Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG) to provide funding as 40 per cent of the children in its care are from the county and other CCGs give financial support.

OCCG chief operating officer Diane Hedges said: “We are aware of the financial pressures all healthcare providers are under, both in the public and charity sector and are sorry to hear that Helen & Douglas House is having to change the charitable service it provides.

“Oxfordshire CCG commissions palliative care and end of life services for children, young adults and older people from a variety of providers in the county.

"These include Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust which offers specialist palliative care to children and young people aged 0-18 years at home, and Barnardos which offers specialist respite care for children with life limiting conditions.

“OCCG also commissions end of life and palliative care for people over the age of 18 from Michael Sobell House hospice in Oxford, Sue Ryder hospice in South Oxfordshire and Katharine House Hospice in north Oxfordshire.

"All these hospices offer inpatient beds, hospice outpatients, day therapies and community nurse specialists, similar to that of Helen and Douglas House.

"A number of other organisations, including charities, provide services such as night sitting and bereavement counselling.

"Going forward the CCG will work with Helen and Douglas House to ensure those patients being cared for, from Oxfordshire, will continue to receive any essential healthcare which is currently provided by the charity.

“The CCG keeps all these palliative care services under review as required and Helen and Douglas House can bid for contracts.

"We also meet regularly with end of life care stakeholders and providers in Oxfordshire to coordinate, to share best practice and bring forward service improvements as part of the End of Life Reference Group. Helen and Douglas House is a member of that group.”

Helen and Douglas House is talking with staff, patients, volunteers and families about the nature of these changes and no further statement will be made until that concludes.