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Havering-atte-Bower’s Saint Francis Hospice ‘urgently’ needs to make £413,000 of savings

PUBLISHED: 07:00 02 February 2018

St Francis Hospice Chief Executive Pam Court

St Francis Hospice Chief Executive Pam Court

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The chief executive of a hospice has stressed that the charity is “not at risk”, after a leaked email revealed that it needs to make £413,000 worth of savings.

Chief executive at Saint Francis Hospice Pam Court:

“We’re surprised that this internal information has been shared as we haven’t reached the end of the 2017/18 financial year.

“As such it’s very premature to be taking this message externally as this is part of our internal process for finalising our budgets for our next financial year, April 18 to March 19.

“As a result of our actions the financial figure quoted has already improved significantly thanks to staff already coming forward with ideas for improving the draft position.

“It’s important to start with the message that services will not be affected and at no time has this ever been suggested. “Initial discussions were had at our regular, monthly senior team meeting, where ideas were sought to help us save money and make best use of the income we receive from our supporters, and to explore any new income ideas.

“Service cuts were not discussed in any way – maintaining our services and delivering high quality patient care and carer support is very much our priority, and we have invested significantly in our services over the past three years.

“Options were discussed in this confidential meeting and with staff recently coming forward with reduced hours requests, it would have been remiss of us not to have discussed reduced hours as an option and we included voluntary redundancy, as we believe some staff may be very happy to consider these options.

“Saint Francis Hospice is not at risk – I have stressed that reducing the financial gap is of the utmost importance and is a risk to balancing our budget.

“Attendees were asked to prioritise this. We have healthy reserves, and although our income is growing thanks to our generous supporters, it remains a challenge to ensure this income growth continues.

“As a charity, we need to raise over £21,000 each and every day to ensure we can provide our specialist end of life care services to our local community at the most important time of their lives.

“We’re constantly reviewing how we spend our funding to ensure we are prioritising patient care, and with more than 70pc of our income coming from the public, it is our responsibility to ensure the money raised and donated to us is spent in the most appropriate way, every day.”

A financial update sent to staff members at Saint Francis Hospice, Broxhill Road, Havering-atte-Bower, and seen by the Recorder last week, states that the charity once again had a deficit budget in 2017, due to its “current financial challenges”.

The report states: “Last year saw us set a deficit budget and though this is not something we wanted to do again, we’re now having to look at setting a deficit budget for the next three years, which is a risk to the hospice.

“We need to get everyone thinking about how we function as a charity.

“Do we always ask “can we get it for free?” or “can a volunteer do it for us”?, or have we encouraged fundraising to support income generation.

“We appear to be using less volunteers than we have in the past and we also need to consider our purchasing habits to be as cost effective as possible.”

In the report, it says the current deficit is £913,000 but the charity is looking to bring this down to £500,000 “urgently”.

There are also six job vacancies in the fundraising department and one as a consultant.

Speaking to the Recorder, chief executive Pam Court wishes to stress that no changes are being made to the charity.

She said: “It’s important to start with the message that services will not be affected and at no time has this ever been suggested.

“Service cuts were not discussed in any way – maintaining our services and delivering high quality patient care and carer support is very much our priority, and we have invested significantly in our services over the past three years.

“Saint Francis Hospice is not at risk”.

Ms Court added that donations are more important than ever with £21,000 needed everyday to provide its specialist end of life care.

“We’re constantly reviewing how we spend our funding to ensure we are prioritising patient care, and with more than 70pc of our income coming from the public, it is our responsibility to ensure the money raised and donated to us is spent in the most appropriate way, every day.”

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