On behalf of our organisations who are both committed to improving palliative and end of life care for the communities of Great Yarmouth and Waveney, we are pleased to announce that East Coast Hospice and St Elizabeth Hospice have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in order to formally explore opportunities for collaboration and a potential merger.
The MOU will initially be for one year while we speak to partners, stakeholders and the wider community and scope the possibility of a merger to achieve joint aims and ambitions.
We pay tribute to all those who have endeavoured to improve palliative care in the region over the years and we believe this is the best opportunity to join forces towards a single vision for the area. With partners, our shared goal is to develop a solution for hospice care for Great Yarmouth and Waveney that is high quality, affordable and sustainable for both the current and future needs of the region. This will include a thorough review of the sustainable opportunities for hospice care on the Hopton site owned by East Coast Hospice.
The past two years have been challenging for the charity sector but the opportunity now exists for a positive, constructive way forward towards our common goals. The new integrated care model outlined in the Health and Care Bill currently going through Parliament is a clear reminder that collaboration is a requirement for all health and social care providers, with the voluntary sector included as equal partners. This requires all organisations to seek progressive partnerships and collaborations in the best interests of the communities they serve.
Since April 2019, St Elizabeth Hospice has successfully partnered with East Coast Community Healthcare (ECCH) to deliver specialist palliative hospice care in Great Yarmouth and Waveney, including six specialist palliative care beds in Beccles Hospital together with 24/7 telephone advice line, OneCall, coordinating the provision of specialist care for patients throughout Great Yarmouth and Waveney.
The phone advice line, OneCall, receives over 500 calls a month in the area. Since 2019, almost 3,000 patients have been supported in Great Yarmouth and Waveney by St Elizabeth Hospice both in Beccles Hospital and in the community with support from St Elizabeth Hospice’s Community Team: this partnership with ECCH will continue to deliver and grow services across Great Yarmouth and Waveney.
Acting Chair of East Coast Hospice Bridget Lowe said, “St Elizabeth Hospice has done a first class job in Great Yarmouth and Waveney to date. With over 30 years’ experience in providing hospice care from its Ipswich hospice and across the East Suffolk community, and with a highly efficient fundraising team and skilled management, this collaboration will bring a much needed impetus to the East Coast Hospice project.
“The solution the parties must now devise has to be one that the community can afford to fund year on year and which fits with its current needs for palliative and hospice care. That may well be different from the existing plans and could involve a joint venture with a third party, the involvement of commercial partners and/or other charities and partners operating in the same area providing complementary services. Every alternative should be considered and we welcome the opportunity to explore these possibilities with an experienced professional partner such as St Elizabeth Hospice.”
Tracey Bleakley, Chief Executive Designate, NHS Norfolk and Waveney Integrated Care Board, said: “I am delighted East Coast Hospice and St Elizabeth Hospice will be collaborating together to establish a plan that will deliver a high quality palliative and end-of-life care service for the communities of Great Yarmouth and Waveney.
“I look forward to seeing the partnership progress, as they work together to achieve their shared ambition which will provide much benefit to the people of Great Yarmouth and Waveney.”
Chair of St Elizabeth Hospice Ian Turner said, “We recognise that fundraising for sustainable hospice care is a deep commitment from volunteers and supporters, and we have huge respect for all the East Coast Hospice supporters who have done so much already to build the funds raised to date for Great Yarmouth and Waveney. Our shared goal now is to make sure that those funds are put to the maximum benefit for high quality sustainable hospice care into the future for the people of Great Yarmouth and Waveney.”