Pioneering Denbighshire hospice hailed as one of Wales’s great success stories

Professor Jean White, Chief Medical Officer at St Kentigerns Hospice with from left, Dinah Hickish, consultant nurse, Iain Mitchell, Chief Ececutive and Trefor Jones, Chairman

Wales’s top nurse has hailed a pioneering hospice that serves Flintshire as one of the nation’s greatest healthcare success stories.

The Chief Nursing Officer for Wales, Professor Jean White, will be reporting her findings to the Welsh Government following a visit to St Kentigern Hospice in St Asaph.

Professor Jean White, Chief Medical Officer at St Kentigerns Hospice with from left, Dinah Hickish, consultant nurse, Iain Mitchell, Chief Ececutive and Trefor Jones, Chairman

Prof White, who is also Nurse Director of NHS Wales, was “hugely excited” to tour the hospice, talk to staff and patients, and hear about its revolutionary model of nurse-led care.

She said: “I’ve heard so many positive comments about St Kentigern that I’ve long looked forward to coming here and learning about its innovative strategies first hand.

“Part of my role as Chief Nursing Officer for Wales is to explore new developments taking place in healthcare and to advise the government on how we can potentially incorporate some of those ideas within the wider NHS.

“I have a passionate interest in the nurse led model of care which St Kentigern Hospice has pioneered and is continuing to advocate. It’s extremely important to have a conversation about how this style of nurse leadership can be taken forward, and to hear from everyone at the hospice about the remarkable journey they are on.


“I shall certainly then be in a better position to advise the government on the benefits of this model.”


Hospice Chairman Mr Trefor Jones said her visit was extremely significant as she was in a position to inform and champion the St Kentigern model of care at the very highest levels.


The hospice has become renowned as one of the most pioneering in the UK. It’s ‘nurse-led’ care framework for its inpatient unit was the first model of its kind to be developed in the UK and has attracted attention from health organisations in New Zealand, keen to monitor its progress.


Dinah Hickish who was appointed the first Consultant Nurse in palliative care in Wales this spring, after 12 years of working at St Kentigern, said Professor White’s visit was a key moment in the hospice’s history.


She said: “We are thrilled to welcome her and allow her to see the substantial advances which have been made here at St Kentigern Hospice over the last few momentous years.”


Dinah was appointed Consultant Nurse in palliative care after a long-running campaign by the hospice’s governing body to have the post officially registered and recognised by health leaders across Wales.


It allows her to admit patients, clinically assess them, initiate a programme of care and as a non-medical prescriber she can prescribe the treatments necessary for them.


She leads a highly qualified team of Advanced Nurse Practitioners who can make key decisions without having to call a doctor in every case.


The strategy is strongly backed by the hospice board, patients and their families and the nurses have the support of GPs and consultants from Betsi Cadwalader University Health Board.


Dinah said one of the main advantages of the model is that is allows imperative decisions to be made quickly and on the spot, without the delay entailed in waiting for a doctor to authorise treatment. This can minimise on pain and trauma experienced by patients and their families.


Prof White, who also met the hospice chief executive Iain Mitchell, and other members of the board of trustees, advises the Welsh Government on nursing and midwifery matters and acts as the government representative on national and international issues related to these fields.


A former lecturer at Swansea university, she said: “The best way to provide honest, authentic advice is to further educate myself on the advances which are happening around our country and that means visiting establishments first hand to hear from the people on the front line.”


The hospice, which marked its 22nd anniversary last month, relies on the generous donations of the public for more than 80 per cent of its income. Providing end of life care and symptom control for those with life-threatening and terminal illness, it currently offers eight in-patient beds and an additional 15 day therapy places.


Praising the St Asaph community for its unflinching support for the hospice, Prof White added: “As a nurse myself I find St Kentigern Hospice’s groundbreaking approach towards patient care truly inspirational.


“I’m delighted to have this unique opportunity to talk directly with its staff, patients and volunteers, to arm myself which as much information as I can about the nurse-led model and further spread the word about this phenomenal success story. I have no doubt this is one of the most visionary hospices in Wales.”