In what sane world do you fine a hospice a quarter of a million pounds? And if that’s not enough, according to the BBC news website the judge in the case also ordered that the hospice pay legal costs of £165,000.
The legal system is asking a charity that offers a unique service to those at the end of their lives to meet a bill of £415,000 at Hastings In Focus we think that is just wrong!
The money to run the hospice comes from everyday people doing extraordinary things to raise cash just to keep the facility in existence.
However, we cannot beat about the bush St Michael’s Hospice clearly contravened fire safety regulations and admitted such in court and we need to remember that three people died in the 2015 fire. But to present the organisation with a total bill of over £400,000 – given what it does and how it funds itself – surely makes no sense whatsoever.
The hospice is not a business, the fine will not impact on shareholders. No, the only people who are going to suffer as a result of this are the terminally ill patients who benefit from the caring and compassionate services the hospice offers and their families who have come to rely on the hospice for support in helping them deal with the loss of a relative.
We wonder how all those people feel today who just a few weeks ago took to the streets around the town, running the half marathon to help fund the good work that the hospice does? Some of those runners raised just a few hundred pounds – how many people will need to run the half-marathon in coming years to pay off the fine? How many second hand blouses, jackets or dog-eared paperbacks will the hospice’s charity shops have to sell to make up the deficit?
We are not suggesting that the hospice and its management should get away scot-free. People died as a result of the 2015 fire – a fire believed to have been started as a result of arson – so some kind of sanction is necessary.
But we believe this sanction is not an appropriate one because whether intentional or not the people who will suffer the most as a result of this judgement are the people most in need.
Maybe this issue raises bigger issues about how we fund the hospice movement but that discussion is for another day.
There is a facility at the bottom of this page where you can tell us what you think, we’d love to hear from. What do you think about the fine.