Grove House to merge with another hospice

GROVE House hospice is set to merge with a neighbouring hospice in what they hope will become a national flagship for future care.

The St Albans day hospice in the grounds of City Hospital, which is supported by the Herts Advertiser, intends to join forces with Iain Rennie Hospice at Home (IRHH) with which it already provides 24-hour home care in the St Albans district.

It is the success of the integration of the two charity’s clinical services which has prompted the proposed merger which should officially take place in the Spring.

But Mark Lister, chief executive of Grove House, admitted that paramount in the discussions between the two hospices was the impact on local support for a merged service that would also take in parts of Buckinghamshire and Dacorum which comes under Grove House but is already served by Iain Rennie as a hospice at home service.

He said: “We are acutely conscious of local support and that was the biggest single discussion point when we looked at a merger. That is why we are keeping our independent names and logos which we will continue to promote in fundraising.”

Although the new merged organisation will be named Iain Rennie Grove House Hospice Care, that will be just an official title with both charities retaining their strong local presence, support and community roots.

The two charities believe that the merger will create a stronger, more capable and cost-effective organisation and Mark said that it was not being done for financial reasons as both parties were financially sound.

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He went on: “Both organisations believe that the reasons for merger are both compelling and urgent. At least 20 per cent more patients will need Iain Rennie and Grove House care by 2030 due to the ageing population.

“Moreover there is a potential to become a national flagship for future hospice care thanks to the special shared focus on support for patients from diagnosis to live at home through our day hospice, outpatient and hospice at home care.

Robert Breakwell, chief executive of IRHH who will head up the new charity, added: “Many people with conditions other than cancer currently miss out on hospice care and do not have the quality of life we know is possible. Combining the best of both hospices will better equip the new merged charity to meet the tough care and funding challenge we face.

“The excellent working relationships that have built up between Grove House and Iain Rennie over recent years make me extremely optimistic about our potential to provide better care for many more people across our combined area.”

Although the senior management teams of each charity will be restructured and there could be redundancies at that level and on the administrative side, Mark stressed it was a merger not one hospice taking over the other.

He said: “People may have the perception that it is a takeover but the whole relationship is built on trust. We have worked so well over the years and the new board of trustees will have significant representation from Grove House.

“Our services are in many ways very different so there is no question over the future of our clinical services.”