Changes to the hours of our community telephone advice line

News and Blog

At St Catherine’s, as we look forward it has become increasingly clear that our rising costs as a hospice, alongside the pressures on our income sources, mean we can’t sustain the current level of services we operate. Therefore we’re changing the core operating hours of our community telephone advice line. From Monday 17 June our advice line will only be available between 8am and 4pm Monday to Friday and 9am to 5pm at weekends and on Bank Holidays instead of 24 hours a day.

This advice line is staffed by nurses and assistants and is in place to offer telephone support to those under our care and their families.

As a local charity dedicated to supporting people at a most vulnerable time in their lives, making any change that affects those under our care is really difficult. However, after looking at our services and our available resources we have had to make these changes.

We are very disappointed to have to reduce our advice line opening hours in this way but we’d like to reassure all those who need and support us that we will continue to provide our expert advice to people under our care, and those closest to them, during our new hours of operation. We will also continue to signpost people to other existing NHS support outside of these hours. Also and importantly, we remain absolutely committed to offering specialist advice to other health and social care professionals at all times. This ensures our expertise is still able to contribute to the care of local people across our referral area.

Who can people call when your advice line isn’t open?

We understand for all those people who use our advice line that this reduction in opening hours might feel worrying, but during the times our advice line will be closed there is other wide-ranging support available including; your GP, district nursing teams who cover the community if someone is under their care and who are available 24 hours a day,  111 on the telephone and online – a service which also operates 24 hours a day – while finally, there is 999 for any life-threatening emergencies.

Importantly, all health or social care professionals who need to speak to our team for further support in the care of patients will still be able to contact us 24/7.

Our advice line will continue to have a voicemail facility where those under our care or their family members can contact us and leave a message for us to pick up and action the next day – weekdays and weekends.

Why have you decided to change the hours of the advice line?

Despite incredibly valued support from our community, like many other charities and households, we’re feeling the impact of the economic climate. As a result of this, we’re simply unable to continue to provide the same level of service on our advice line. After careful consideration, we feel that our expert charitable resources are best utilised in specialist areas which aren’t also covered by NHS services with whom we work closely. 

We believe the changes we’re making are the best way for our teams to most effectively continue to support our NHS and social care partners ensuring those we care for, their families and others in our community still have access to the expertise we offer.

Is this a permanent change? 

While our funding remains under real pressure we need to run our advice line differently while working in co-ordination with the statutory services we support. We may also need to make further changes to how we support people in our community in the future.

As our advice line begins to operate with its new hours, we welcome feedback from anyone who uses the service and any feedback we receive may inform future changes.

The difficult financial position that we are facing is shared by many other hospices across the UK. In the run up to the general election, Hospice UK are pushing their ‘manifesto for palliative and end of life care’, advocating for more funding so everyone affected by dying, death and bereavement gets the best possible care and support. The manifesto has five main goals:

  1. Deliver a new funding solution for hospices and palliative and end of life care to end the postcode lottery in access
  2. Introduce a national delivery plan for palliative and end of life care in every nation to support delivery of local services
  3. Guarantee that palliative and end of life care services meet each individual’s needs, including those of people dying at home
  4. Act to ensure that nobody dies in poverty and tackle inequalities in palliative and end of life care
  5. Improve support for families and carers of people with a terminal illness

You can read more here:

Are you changing the hours of your advice line because of your new hospice building?

The changes to our advice line aren’t as a result of the cost of building our new hospice at Pease Pottage, the funding for which was secured through a separate appeal to help us build it. It’s because of rising costs in the current economic climate, something that we’re all experiencing. Unless we act now, we would place the sustainability of our charity – and the vital work it provides – at heightened risk.

It’s really disappointing to share news like this with you, but we never forget that it’s only thanks to your generosity and the wider support of our local community that we can be there for people living with a terminal or life-limiting condition. We continue to be so enormously grateful that your continued support enables us to help so many local people who need us.