*** DEBUG END ***

Hospice founder asked not to return after allegations

10 July 2015


Woman of the Year: Sister Frances Dominica ASSP receives her award, in 2007

Woman of the Year: Sister Frances Dominica ASSP receives her award, in 2007

THE Anglican nun who founded the world’s first children’s hospice has been told not to return to it, after an independent risk assessment carried out in the wake of historic abuse allegations.

Sister Frances Dominica ASSP has been told not to return to Helen & Douglas House, in Oxfordshire, to avoid “non-compliance with our healthcare regulator”, a statement from the trustees said last week.

She has “wholly” denied claims that two women were abused between 1980 and 2000. After a police investigation, no charges were brought by the Crown Prosecution Service, owing to “insufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction”. The allegations do not involve the Hospice at all.

The trustees’ statement reads: “We recognise that without Sister Frances’ vision and dedication, Helen & Douglas House would not exist and that is why we have been working tirelessly to resolve the matter with due consideration for Sister Frances’ name and reputation and with absolute focus on preserving the vital work we do in the community.

“We, too, are saddened by the circumstances and understand the situation is deeply distressing for Sister Frances. However, we have to comply with requirements of the Care Quality Commission and adhere to their safeguarding standards when considering the future management of the hospice.”

A risk assessment commissioned jointly with the trustees of the Order was carried out earlier this year by an independent third party and facilitated by the C of E.

“Notwithstanding that no conclusions about the allegations could be made, the Trustees’ decision to ask Sister Frances not to return to the hospice is precisely in line with the risk assessment’s recommendations,” the statement said.

The Oxford Mail reported on Tuesday that Sister Frances had been “flooded with messages of support”. Her lawyer, Lee Fisher, told the newspaper last Friday that “the position she has taken is not to return today and that position is still under consideration. In terms of the allegations made, they are wholly refuted.”

On Monday, a statement from React, which supports families of terminally ill children, expressed its “full support” for Sister Frances, who will remain its patron. She had been “open and clear” about the allegations, it said, and “strenuously denied” them. “We have found absolutely no reason to exclude Sister Frances from React’s activities and fully accept, and have complete faith in the CPS decision.

“We are proud to have Sister Frances as our patron and know that she will continue to bring great comfort into the lives of so many. The Board of React will continue to support her and her work with terminally ill children.”

Sister Frances, who is 72, trained as a nurse before joining the All Saints’ Sisters of the Poor. She became the Mother Superior of All Saints’ Convent in Cowley, Oxford, and founded Helen House hospice on its grounds in 1982, naming it after Helen Worswick, a two-year-old with a brain tumour. Douglas House, which cares for young adults, was opened in 2004. She was appointed OBE in 2006.

Browse Church and Charity jobs on the Church Times jobsite

Forthcoming Events


Church Times/RSCM:

Festival of Faith and Music

26 - 28 April 2024

See the full programme on the festival website. 

Early bird tickets available


Intercultural Church for a Multicultural World

28 May 2024

A Church Times/Church House Publishing webinar

Tickets are FREE


Church Times/Modern Church:

A Political Faith?

Monday 3 June 2024

This panel will explore where Christians have come to in terms of political power and ask, where should we go next?

Online tickets available


Church Times/Modern Church:

Participating in Democracy

Monday 10 June 2024

This panel will explore the power of voting, and power beyond voting.

Online tickets available


Green Church Awards

Closing date: 30 June 2024

Read more details about the awards


Welcome to the Church Times


To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)