The Virtual Hospice CEO Group was set up in 2020 as an on-line forum for CEOs to discuss strategic challenges and opportunities in an open and supportive way. We keep numbers small enough to do this productively, but large enough to get a good range of opinions, so it’s limited to around 15 members. 

Over the years, we have had dozens of speakers on a spectrum of subjects ranging from  strategy and governance, all aspects of income generation, to EDI, community engagement, organisational culture and volunteering. 

Nicki Shaw, CEO at Princess Alice Hospice has been a member of the group from the start.

 'It's a great chance to discuss the issues we all have in common, but also to be pushed  outside our comfort zone by thought provoking speakers. I always enjoy attending'.   

Below are details about some of our recent sessions. To learn more about the group including how to join, contact me.  

Graphic showing the different types of organisation

May 2024

This month we were joined by James Potter and Rebecca Moss of Big Issue Invest and Mark Jarman Howe CEO, of St Helena Hospice to discuss Social Investment. 

Mark’s explanation of his hospice's approach to using social investment and the added discipline and rigour it has brought to their wider financial management was very thought provoking. So too was his explanation of their move to a dual structure of a charitable arm and a commercial trading arm. Likewise, the discussion around charging for clinical services which St Helena have introduced in a number of areas. Lots to think about! 

Three glass jars full of money

April 2024 

Our April session was an open discussion on the theme of Investing for Sustainability

We heard from a number of participants on how they have invested in digital and IT capability to increase productivity and about their approaches to change management and the challenges this brings. 

One member also explained how they are proving the case for investment in their community services to avoid unnecessary hospital admissions and reduce GP appointments. 

Flag of New Zealand

March 2024

We were privileged  to have Tony Gray, CEO of Nelson Tasman Hospice and Tina McCarthy, CEO of Tōtara Hospice speak to us about the impact of the 2019 End of Life Care Act on hospices in New Zealand. 

With several parts of the UK now getting closer to passing legislation around the legalisation of Assisted Dying and the chance of a vote on this in Westminster after the election, it is vital that hospices start to consider some of the potential implications. 

Tina and Tony were very open and honest in their reflections and this was of great benefit in provoking thinking amongst the group about some of these issues. 


Picture of Debra Allcock Tyler, CEO of DSC

February 2024

It was great to have the always provocative and interesting Debra Allcock Tyler, CEO of the Directory of Social Change at our February meeting.

Debra ran through her thoughts on some of the many challenges facing the 'for impact' sector at present, ranging from governance to charity shops and resilience in leadership to equality, diversity and inclusion. No shortage of topics and great to get her honest and open reflections. 

January 2024

At our first session of 2024, we welcomed Ann Lee who recently stepped down as CEO of St Margaret's Hospice in Somerset. She had previously been Director of Care. 

Ann spoke frankly and eloquently about some of the successes and challenges during her time at the hospice. This included organising a concert with Rod Stewart that raised £150,000, having to manage the aftermath of a complex legal case involving fraud and dealing with the public backlash to changes they had to make at one of the hospices. 

Her resilience, commitment and energy through all these experiences is to be admired. 

Heavenly group logo

September 2023

The presentation by John Rhys from Heavenly on their work with Princess Alice Hospice on their main brand but especially the development of their Employee Value Proposition (EVP) generated a lot of interest amongst participants. 

With all the current challenges around recruitment and retention, making your brand stand out in the market is increasingly important. It will be interesting to learn more about the impact of this work at a future session. 

Image of people on a CQC page about regulation

November 2023 

At this month's Open Forum Session, we heard the reflections from three hospices, St Andrew's (Grimsby), Keech (Luton) and Wakefield Hospice, about their recent CQC inspections. Except for the fact that each had not had an in-person visit since well before the pandemic, their respective experiences did not have not much in-common!  

We also discussed the highlights of the recent Hospice UK Conference and special guest Jonathan Ellis invoked a very interesting discussion around the age-old issue of statutory funding of end-of-life care. 

Social Finance logo

October 2023

This month, we welcomed Lindsey Lambeth from Social Finance to discuss social investment and in particular the Macmillan End of Life Fund that they are involved in. We also heard from Amelia Foster from Sobell House Hospice Charityin Oxford who
discussed the positive results of their participation with Social Finance alongside local partners.

Social Investment is still a relatively new concept in end of life care, but can offer innovative ways of funding service development. What came across to me in the session was the flexible and innovative way Social Finance wish to work with partners and their realisation that projects will be very organic – they may turn out to operate quite differently than planned. 

Graphic showing

August 2023

Recent research provides evidence of falling numbers of people giving up their time to help out in both ‘formal’ and ‘informal’ volunteering and a number of other worrying findings. At this session, we discussed how far hospices were experiencing the impact of these trends. 

It became clear that this differed markedly in different areas of work, with challenges in, for example, retail. However, we also heard examples of innovative recruitment and involvement campaigns and of a greater emphasis on focusing on volunteer motivation. 

Clearly, hospices will continue to rely heavily on the support of volunteers from the communities they serve. 

Logos of the charities in the H4All partnership

June 2023

This month's theme was cross-voluntary sector collaborations. Recent years have seen many more examples of hospices working together in more strategic ways. But as this session showed, there are also plenty of opportunities for collaborative activity with other organisations in the third sector. 

Steve Currie from Harlington Hospice talked about H4All which involves partners from across Hillingdon who work together on a number of initiatives. They are soon to extend their scope to working in more boroughs across north-west London and with a wider range of charities. 

Kate Heaps and Jon Devlin spoke about One Bexley, a consortia of eight charities, led by Greenwich & Bexley Community Hospice, which undertakes adult social care assessments across the borough. 

All speakers stressed the benefits to their hospices of extending their reach and impact by working with partner charities in their localities. 

Zoe Amar logo

July 2023

We welcomed Zoe Amar FCIM, a leading expert in all things digital, to the group this month. Zoe led a thought provoking and engaging session on the opportunities around Artificial Intelligence.

From the more mundane, such as providing executive summaries of papers and minutes to meetings, to the much more profound e.g. enabling new ways to interact with beneficiaries, the opportunities around AI are numerous.

So, having an open and curious mindset is important – especially for the technophobes amongst us! I loved Zoe’s suggestion that we think of AI as an extra member of staff, rather than an abstract piece of complex technology, to help us do this. 

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