AN Oxfordshire-based hospice has announced it is exploring a potential partnership with Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (OUH).

Katharine House Hospice in Banbury wants to join forces with the Trust in order to protect the services that the facility provides.

The hospice, which was formed almost 30 years ago and which supports more than 900 families every year, says the healthcare needs of the population it serves are changing rapidly and it needs to ensure the right care is in place as people live longer with more complex illnesses.

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Under the proposals, the hospice’s clinical service would transfer to be under the management of OUH, ensuring a sustainable future, but current services provided by Katharine House would be retained

Katharine House Hospice CEO, Angharad Orchard, said: “Changing demographics mean that we need to deliver a broader range of services to more people in the coming years, and so we have needed to be open to exploring ways of ensuring that happens.

“Continuing our current model would eventually result in the loss of some of our clinical services due to the increasing demand for our services and a deficit in our funding, and we simply cannot allow that to happen.

"This proposal would protect the services that we provide.”

If the partnership progresses, the hospice would remain a charity and would still need to raise £3 million annually to continue to support future services.

As well as ensuring current clinical services remain and levels of care are maintained to the highest standard, Katharine House would stay in the building that has been its home for almost 30 years. The 10 beds in the Inpatient Unit would also remain in place under the proposed move.

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Ms Orchard said: “The partnership would put local people first and enable us to go forward together with confidence with the community we serve. Our vital services would remain in place and people would continue to receive services in the same way they do currently.

“This partnership would therefore not only secure the future of the hospice, but it would enable us to build on it too, and we would be able to continue to deliver the excellent standards of care we always have.”

She added: "At this stage the hospice Trustees are fully exploring this option to enable them to make an informed decision. At every step, we have made the needs of our community our top priority. The aim of working collaboratively with OUH is to maintain and improve services for adults with life-limiting illnesses, making sure the right care is in place at the right time where it is needed most.

"The needs of the 156,000 people within our community are very different to when our journey as a hospice started. We need to adapt to the requirements of our community if we are to serve people as they want and as they deserve.”