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Pilgrims Hospice bosses resign after beds’ row

Shock announcement by chief executive and chairman of trustees

RESIGNED: Steve Auty (left) and Dr Richard Morey
RESIGNED: Steve Auty (left) and Dr Richard Morey

TWO of the most senior members of staff at the Pilgrims’ Hospice have resigned. Chief executive Steve Auty will step down at the end of the month, while Dr Richard Morey has already departed as chairman of the board of trustees. The two men have 25 years’ experience at the charity between them, overseeing the introduction of the Hospice at Home care service and a general increase in fundraising.

Controversial

But the last few weeks have seen the trustees’ popularity plummet after the controversial decision to close the inpatient ward at the Canterbury hospice, to focus more on home care. The decision has since been reversed. A letter from the hospice released after Mr Auty’s resignation was announced said that it was time for him to “hand on the leadership baton”, and added that he “wanted to thank all staff. volunteers and supporters”. The two men made up half of the panel at a controversial public meeting about the hospice’s future. It was Dr Morey’s comment that the meeting was “mainly a presentation” as opposed to a consultation, that prompted a walkout by hundreds of people. Volunteers and staff have expressed surprise at the news of the men’s departures. In the case of Mr Auty, most thought he wouldn’t go until next year at the earliest, with some saying he had another two years to run at the charity. Abi Calder, a former nurse at the hospice who helped to coordinate the online campaign to save the hospice beds, said she would describe the reaction to the decision as “a sigh of relief”. She added:

“We want to work very closely with the successor and the trustees going forward. We’re on the same team now. And I personally think, with a fresh face coming in, it will be easier.”

She also expressed concern that there were still some questions successors would need to answer. She said:

“We know that there will be beds at all three hospice sites, but we don’t know how many, and there are concerns that some of the beds could still go. That will be our first priority with the successor, to keep all 16 beds.”

Keren Tattersall, a member of the Canterbury Volunteer Group, which fought the decision, said they would continue to work for the good of the hospice, regardless of who the new management is. She said:

“We will work as closely as we possibly can with the new chief executive and trustees for the sake of the patients and their families.”

Dr Morey will be replaced by the current vice-chairman of the board of trustees. Mr Auty’s replacement has not been named.

Herne Bay Gazette, June 25th 2014

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