Nuns angry at campaign saying St Raphael's Hospice, in North Cheam, is threatened
A group of nuns have accused Sutton and Cheam MP Paul Burstow of "erroneously" representing issues in his campaign to save a hospice.
In a letter, leaked to this newspaper, Sister Veronica Hagen, chairman of the trustees who run St Raphael’s Hospice and the neighbouring private hospital St Anthony's, said they were "distressed" that despite explaining the situation to MP Paul Burstow he had organised a campaign to save the hospice when it is not in any danger.
She said: "It is outrageous for Mr Burstow to constantly imply we are placing the hospice at risk".
Mr Burstow wrote to the Charity Commission and launched a campaign after the Daughters of the Cross put the neighbouring St Anthony’s hospital up for sale.
He and other campaigners are concerned about £1m worth of services which the hospital provides to the hospice every year free of charge.
Staff also proposed that a new charity was set up to manage both services but the nuns rejected this.
The letter reveals that the nuns had refrained from fully addressing in public their main reasons behind this decision to avoid undermining the leadership team at both services.
Paul Scully, Conservative Parliamentary candidate for Sutton and Cheam, said it was important to make sure the hospice is there for generations to come and added: "But we can’t turn it into a political football. I’m not sure complaining to the Charity Commission accusing elderly nuns of misconduct is a sensible way forward instead of working with the trustees and hospital staff to get a solution for hospital staff."
Mr Burstow said the campaign was broad-based reflecting the views of many of the staff and supporters of the hospice.
He added: "So far they have failed to convince me and much more importantly the staff and management of the hospice and hospital that their plan will work."
A statement from the Daughters of the Cross addressed the concerns about the services provided by St Anthony’s to St Raphael’s and said whether the relationship continues or another solution is put in place they will ensure its future is secure.
They said: "The Daughters of the Cross have been running St Raphael’s Hospice since its formation in 1987, and this will not change on the sale of St Anthony’s Hospital."
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