Seven hospices in Sussex are working together to gain a stronger political voice, whilst retaining their local identity and independence.

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Project and outcomes


Project overview

Hospices in Sussex have a history of working well together. However several factors encouraged them to work collaboratively to gain a stronger political voice:

  • unequal NHS funding
  • variation in offer
  • increasing demand for services
  • a desire to seek economies of scale
  • the development of the new Integrated Care System (ICS).

They wanted to do this whilst retaining their local identity and independence.

Discussions about a collaboration formally began in Spring 2018 and a memorandum of understanding was signed at the end of 2019. A steering group was set up in 2020.


The collaborative has given hospices a new platform to talk to systems partners and commissioners in a way that they were unable to do as individual organisations. Other achievements include:

  • A Project ECHO superhub for care home education.
  • A pan-Sussex leadership and management development programme. 48 managers will complete the programme in 2022- 2023.
  • Four hospices have worked together to align, benchmark and report on mandatory training using one e-learning platform.
  • Scoping of an integrated 24/7 telephone advice and support line across four hospices.
  • Hospices working together to benchmark core activity and develop a common data set.
  • Shared senior job posts, e.g. Finance and IT Director.

Facilitators, challenges and advice


Key facilitators

Well established relationships between the seven hospices provided the foundations for this work.

In the early stages of the partnership, scoping work was carried out to determine what each hospice were willing (or unwilling) to collaborate on. This informed the initial work programme and workstreams. 

Whilst working as seven hospices is the ideal, the collaboration approach is flexible allowing hospices to opt out of projects if they are not suitable or relevant to them.


It takes time to set up and run the collaboration, and this has to be done alongside the daily running of hospices. 

Success is dependent on the commitment of each Hospice CEO and Trustee Board. Inevitable changes in leadership present risks as well as opportunities.

Hospices in the collaboration are varied, both in culture and size, and have had to adapt to each other’s different needs and ideas. All hospices are balancing the wish to collaborate with the wish to retain autonomy. 

Gathering meaningful, consistent and accurate data to inform plans is challenging.

Tips and advice


Invest in programme management from the start. This enables projects to be assessed and progressed in a timely, co-ordinated manner.

Have a plan but be agile enough to seize on unanticipated opportunities to collaborate. This can engage more stakeholders, generate results and provide momentum for further collaboration.

Invest time in strengthening relationships between the CEOs and building trust. This helps any challenges faced to be addressed quickly and can avoid derailing collaborative efforts.

Future development


The collaborative plans to continue working together whenever it makes sense to pool knowledge, resources and effort. A key aim is to develop more consistent hospice services across Sussex and make joined up care a reality (this will include 24/7 services).

Hospices are also focusing on how they can develop collaborations at “place” as well as “system” level within the ICS.