Letter: Staff and volunteers are heart of hospice

St Catherine's Hospice
St Catherine's Hospice

Re the recent changes at St Catherine’s Hospice.

As a couple, we have over 30 years combined involvement, as past employee and as volunteers.

We have also fundraised and been on the receiving end of hospice care during family illness.

It is the unique combination of employees and volunteers working together as a team that give St Catherine’s its special atmosphere. This has been at the heart of hospice care, and those staff members who have recently lost their jobs have all contributed to this, some for over 20 years.

No one can expect a job for life, and in order to keep within budgets, streamlining management structure seems to be a core aim of the present Senior Team. What seems puzzling is that these were previously regarded as successful managers with proven track records. They have contributed to successive “Excellent” grades in regular Care Quality Commission inspections, some leading successful departments in direct patient care. So they must have been doing something right. Yet they have lost their jobs.

Some departments are now unrecognisable, although not clinical staff, the catering staff provided excellent food, and cheerful service to patients, their families, staff, volunteers and other visitors to the hospice. If an army marches on its stomach, much of the glue that created “Team Hospice” was served along with the food. The job losses are only one aspect of our concern. The hospice, although independent of the NHS, also suffers from similar pressures, but some of the changes that have been implemented, certainly as applied to the Inpatient Department, have badly affected the morale of both members of staff and volunteers.

Change is inevitable and essential. How it is implemented says more about the leadership style of organisation, than most other management tasks. How sensitively do they handle job losses? Can they develop a vision of the future that will inspire the remaining staff (and volunteers)? We remain unconvinced about this, as the feedback that we are getting points to continued dissatisfaction.

One key decision had to be reversed after protests, and we hope that it is not an indicator of the general quality of current decision making.

The previous logo for St Catherine’s said Your Community, Your Hospice, Our Care. We would like to remind those in charge of our hospice that it is only with the continued goodwill and support of our community that St Catherine’s will continue to flourish. We aren’t convinced that the people of Scarborough understand the nature of some of the changes and the possible impact on them and their families.

Jan and Mike Pocknall

Garth End Road

West Ayton