On Thursday 5 March Friends of Sussex Hospices hosted an event at the Amex Stadium to bring together 100 delegates from across Sussex. These were senior managers and trustees of the Sussex hospice care providers, representatives from Sussex Clinical Commissioning Groups and several other health and social care providers. The event focused on why only 60% of people who could benefit from hospice care in Sussex are able to access it.
Kathy Gore, Chair of Friends of Sussex Hospices, and Terry O’Leary, Chair of Trustees, St Catherine’s Hospice, welcomed everyone and introduced David Scott-Ralphs, Chief Executive of St Wilfrid’s Hospice, Eastbourne, who spoke of the progress being made on four collaborative projects currently underway between seven Sussex hospices.
This was followed by Phillipa Ruben in conversation with Barbara Williams, Chief Executive of St Peter & St James Hospice. Phillipa talked about her family’s experience of end of life care when her father, Michael died at home in 2018. Their experience made for uncomfortable listening. Despite many agencies, including the local hospice, being involved the family felt unsupported and alone with a huge burden of care. This heart-rending story focused everyone’s attention on the need to get things right for individuals, their families and carers.
The conference then heard from Tracey Bleakley, CEO of Hospice UK, who reminded attendees of the history of hospice care and the reasons why it is a lottery as to which services might be available in any given location, rather than there being a clear and consistent offer across the country. She felt strongly that it’s not good enough to leave the funding of hospice care to supporters in local communities.
Karen Breen, Deputy Chief Executive and Chief Operating Officer of the Sussex Clinical Commissioning Groups spoke about the shape of the new health structures and the Sussex Integrated Care System which was working to deliver better care for people in our communities. Her challenge to the hospices was to find a way to work together so that the Commissioning Groups can speak to and negotiate with one representative rather than many individual hospices.
Finally, we heard from Steve Curry, Chief Executive of Harlington Hospice, who talked about the H4All collaboration in West London that has transformed services for people in the local community through building collaborations at a high level across North West London but also local partnerships to deliver services. For example Mind delivers all the counselling and bereavement support services and Age UK provides wellbeing activities. It was very inspiring. You can read more about it here: https://www.h4all.org.uk/
At the end of the day, each table held a group discussion with the challenge to name three actions that each individual could do to make a difference. The table host then summarised the discussion to evaluate the progress made during the day and the way forward for the future.
The event was generously sponsored by Michael and Maureen Chowen, supported by BHAFC Conference & Events and Sodexo and skilfully facilitated by Jane Ferguson who generously donated her time and expertise.