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Helen & Douglas House is sad to announce it is to make substantial changes to the organisation because of a shortfall in funding. This is necessary to ensure the future sustainability of the charity.

The charity will no longer provide a service for 18-35 year old patients currently cared for at Douglas House. This will take effect from August 2018. It is anticipated this will result in the region of 60 redundancies across the organisation in 2018. We will support the young adult patients and their families currently in our care over the coming months and help them access alternative care where available in the community.

The Trustees have agreed we will continue to provide specialist palliative care for terminally ill children and young people aged 0-18 years old both at Helen House, at hospital and at home.

Terminally ill babies, children and young people have specialist needs which Helen & Douglas House is uniquely equipped to provide in a home from home environment and consequently we have decided to focus the service on their needs.

In addition we will carry out a systematic review of retail operations and propose to reduce administration and other support functions by approximately 40%. This will start with the senior leadership team. Clare Periton, Chief Executive Officer will continue in post and lead the organisation through the changes and it is anticipated she will reduce her Executive team by half.

These changes are necessary because we operate within a challenging and highly competitive fundraising environment and these pressures are felt by charities nationwide. Helen & Douglas House is not alone at needing to adapt and change in order to survive.

One of the contributors to this challenge is the different approaches taken by and levels of financial support given by local clinical commissioning groups.  Many support the charity but Oxfordshire’s Clinical Commissioning Group does not. Over 40% of the care we provide to children in Helen House is to children who live in Oxfordshire. We have discussed this with them on many occasions and, given the decisions we are now having to make, we hope that further discussions may lead to a change in this approach.

We currently spend £5.2m in order to run the hospice and for at least the past 7 years we have not received sufficient funds to cover these costs and have been running a deficit budget using reserve savings which are reducing year on year.

The Trustees have taken the difficult but prudent decision to reduce the service we offer in order to ensure the safe provision of specialist palliative care for children for the long term.

Chair of the Trustees, Elizabeth Drew said ‘we have been working for some time to reduce our operating costs and despite savings made last year we reluctantly conclude that these were not sufficient to sustain the organisation for the long term.  We are therefore adopting a prudent approach to reduce the service in line with what we can afford in order to keep the hospice open. The changes we are about to make will ensure the charity is able to provide specialist palliative care to terminally ill children, young people and their families for decades to come. This was the unanimous decision of the Board, with one abstention. We are confident that this places the organisation on a firm foundation from where it can evolve to meet the emerging needs of our young patients. We are grateful for all the support we get from the local community and now, more than ever, we need you’.

Helen & Douglas House is talking with staff, patients, volunteers and families about the nature of these changes and no further statement will be made until that concludes.

We continue to need your support so please do whatever you can to help local terminally ill children and their families.  Please make a donation or fund-raise on our behalf. We are happy to help you with your fundraising ideas.

  • For all press and media enquiries please contact Janet Carruzzo on 01865 799152
  • For all fundraising opportunities please contact the Fundraising number on 01865 799150
  • For all clinical and family enquiries please the Clinical Team on 01865 794749