Bury Hospice will have its governance and management examined by an independent reviewer and panel because concerns have been raised about the charity’s performance over the past two years.
The independent reviewer, a management consultant, will examine the plans, decision-making, communication, actions, leadership and management of the Lancashire-based hospice over the past two years, according to a statement from Bolton Hospice, which has helped set up the review.
Disagreements on the charity’s board about the management of the hospice led to three trustees standing down in October and the resignation of the hospice chairman at the end of last year, Third Sector understands.
Jacqui Comber, chief executive of Bury Hospice, has also been on sick leave since late October.
An interim board has been put in place while the review takes place. Members include existing trustees Margaret Lloyd, David Emery, Colin Green and Martin Byrom, plus Graham Yardley, a trustee at Bolton Hospice, and Richard Parker, chair of St Luke’s Cheshire Hospice.
The statement from Bolton Hospice pointed out that Yardley had joined Bury Hospice’s board as an individual and not as a representative of Bolton Hospice.
Bury Hospice’s latest annual report, for the year to the end of March 2015, says that it has been working to "put the finances of the hospice on a more secure basis" since it moved to a new building in 2013.
The report says that a £617,889 deficit in 2013/14 was transformed into a surplus of £7,481 during the following financial year.
Once completed, the review report will be scrutinised by an independent panel including representatives from Pennine Acute NHS Trust, Bury Council and Hospice UK, the national charity for hospice care. It will be chaired by the NHS Bury Clinical Commissioning Group, which has pushed for the review of the hospice.
Any recommendations from that panel will be put to the charity’s interim board.
Margaret Lloyd, the acting chair of Bury Hospice, said: "If there are lessons to learn from past actions and experiences, this will allow the board and management to continue to develop the hospice in the safest and most positive way over future months and years."
Lloyd said she expected the independent review to take a maximum of six weeks to complete.
The Bolton Hospice statement said the recruitment of a new board of trustees for Bury Hospice was ongoing and, once recruited, the trustees would be inducted and given training "in readiness to govern Bury Hospice unhindered by past events".
Bolton Hospice said it had also been offering Bury Hospice support in the form of governance advice and guidance from its trustees and chief executive since December while Bury recruited a new trustee board and developed plans for a sustainable future.
Stuart North, chief officer for NHS Bury CCG, said: "We want Bury Hospice to be a success moving forwards, continuing to provide this vital service for local families. We would like to work with the hospice to make this happen."