After extremely careful, considered and comprehensive review of all available options, the Board of Trustees of The Donna Louise Hospice for Children and Young People (The Donna Louise) and The Douglas Macmillan Hospice (Dougie Mac) have agreed to integrate The Donna Louise into the existing infrastructure of the Dougie Mac in order to protect the provision of children’s palliative care services in Staffordshire and South Cheshire, both now, and in the future.

The Donna Louise has consistently been one of the poorest funded hospices in the country, receiving just 9p of every £1 needed to run its children’s palliative care service from the NHS. In recent years, in common with many other hospices, the charity has had to spend significantly more on delivering care than it has raised from its fundraising and small NHS contributions combined. Previously, The Donna Louise had been able to make up the shortfall from its charitable reserves, but those reserves are now almost depleted. Despite the charity’s best efforts to reverse its fortunes, the children’s charity was facing a real threat to the future of its services.

Simon Fuller, CEO of The Donna Louise, said, “The Donna Louise Children’s Hospice was founded so that no family in our area should ever have to face the death of their child alone – faced with having to drastically cut services, approaching the Dougie Mac for help was a logical move. It is impossible to understate what a devastating impact significant cuts to service would have had on families facing the unimaginable.
“Despite the tremendous goodwill and support that The Donna Louise has always, and continues to enjoy from the local community, the costs of providing high-quality children’s hospice care are rising every year. We have worked hard over the past two years, amidst an increasingly tough fundraising environment, to secure additional NHS funding and to cut costs, but these measures have not been enough to bridge the funding gap. A major change was therefore necessary in order to secure the future of our children’s hospice service.

“Much like The Donna Louise, the Dougie Mac is very highly regarded, delivering vital end of life and palliative care to the very highest of standards. In times of such continued economic uncertainty, amalgamation into the Dougie Mac is absolutely the right thing to do, not just for the people both charities support, but for the members of our community who make our work possible.”

David Webster, CEO of The Douglas Macmillan Hospice, confirmed: “Dougie Mac is always striving to deliver the very best quality of care to meet the ever-changing needs of the local community. When a family has received the devastating news that they will almost certainly outlive their child, the idea that they might not have access to appropriate palliative or end of life care services was not a reality that myself or the board of the Dougie Mac was prepared to accept. Integrating The Donna Louise into the Dougie Mac will see the services provided by these two well-loved local charities continue to thrive. This is an excellent opportunity for the Dougie Mac to both protect the vital services currently provided by The Donna Louise and to strengthen the provision of high-quality palliative and end of life care across our area.”

David Platt, Chair of Trustees at the Dougie Mac, continues: “Charities have a responsibility to the communities they serve to be as efficient and effective as possible. Although the two charities currently serve different age groups, the infrastructure required to support our care services is very similar, and there are many efficiencies that can be achieved by bringing The Donna Louise into the Dougie Mac. This can only improve the service we are able to offer those who need our help and remains very much in line with our vision to be admired as a centre of excellence for palliative and end of life care.”

Mark Selby, Chair of Trustees at The Donna Louise, concluded: “Many children’s hospices across the UK are in financial crisis - The Donna Louise is no exception. Until the possibility of integrating with the Dougie Mac became a reality, we were faced with having to significantly cut services. Families often describe The Donna Louise as their ‘Lifeline.’ With every option the Board considered, our over-arching goal was to prevent our financial challenges from impacting the families under our care and to ensure that that lifeline remained, not just now, but for decades to come.

“The two organisations are clear in their commitment to ensuring that this move is a positive one for those currently supported by both charities, and for those who may need support in the future. Teams on both sides will be working hard to minimise any impact on families as work to integrate both organisations progresses.
“Regrettably, job losses will be unavoidable as some roles will no longer be needed following integration. It is intended that those in family-facing roles at The Donna Louise will have their contracts transferred to The Douglas Macmillan Hospice under the TUPE process (Transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employment regulations). Unfortunately, all non-family-facing roles will be put ‘at risk’ of redundancy while a resource review and formal HR consultation takes place. We recognise how unsettling this news will be for staff who are potentially affected and deeply regret the inevitable upset this will cause. This was not an easy decision for the Board to make – but it is, without question, the right decision for the families we support.

“Families at The Donna Louise are at the heart of all the charity does – they are why we exist. The amalgamation of The Donna Louise into the Dougie Mac means that families can face an uncertain future safe in the knowledge that the support they have always been able to rely on will continue to be there. We are incredibly grateful to everyone who has helped make this possible.”