Last week, Berwick Partners hosted 12 hospice CEOs at an exclusive dinner discussion focused on sustainability and the external environment. Mark Jarman-Howe of St Helena opened the discussion by talking about St Helena’s unique lottery offer, for which it has secured social investment. The lottery programme now includes charities outside of the hospice movement and generates £900k for other good causes.
Of particular note was the point about opening up opportunities commercially and looking outside the hospice sector to enable the organisation to grow and develop. A question was raised about whether you borrow money or use your reserves to grow; this initiated an interesting debate, with some CEOs commenting that their focus at the moment is on doing what they need to do to make sure they can “keep the doors open”, rather than on development and growth.
What became clear was that the nature and history of the hospice movement means there are differences in the shape and size of each hospice, as well as balance of funding, and the nature of partnership working with the wider health and care system. The difference was particularly apparent between children’s and adult hospices, with children’s hospices receiving on average just 22% of their funding from statutory sources, compared to 33% for adult hospices. Hospices rely on donations and fundraising for the remainder of their costs.
It is estimated that 80% of hospices are going to be running at a deficit next year. The conversation shifted to the hospice network needing to be a stronger collaborative campaigning voice, with much more co-ordinated messaging and services. Hospices also need to be braver in saying “no” to certain grant agreements and may need to consider scaling back to their core service in order to survive financially.
From Berwick Partners’ perspective, the hospice movement must address future challenges as a matter of priority, as well as embrace the opportunities that are unfolding around it. Our guests were clear that hospices need to achieve a step change. The challenges facing them are significant, but hospices need to work more closely together, sharing their learning and acting as a more united force to ensure a future for the hospice.
Sandra Hamovic, Principal Consultant at Berwick Partners, commented: “Mark’s account of building on a core capability and embracing change was refreshing to hear, but it was clear that not everyone was in a position to be as creative and entrepreneurial. The inconsistencies across the sector are apparent; maybe the role of Hospice UK needs to shift towards enabling the sector to bridge those gaps and help them become more equal partners. We are delighted to support the hospice community in its journey towards sustainability, and thank our guests for their contributions.”