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EDITIONS
Thursday, 28 November, 2002, 08:29 GMT
Angry scenes at hospice AGM
The Northern Ireland Hospice in Belfast
The hospice has been embroiled in controversy
There have been heated exchanges at the annual meeting of the troubled Northern Ireland Hospice.

Following the election of two new people to its council, members decided to renew their appeal for an independent review of the way the charity has been run.

But there was a mass walkout of staff just before the end of the meeting in Belfast on Wednesday night.

There had been calls for the meeting to be deferred until an inquiry was carried out.

Tom Hill
Tom Hill stood down as chief executive
On Tuesday, the hospice asked the Department of Health to carry out an investigation into problems at the charity over the last two and a half years.

The organisation's chief executive, Tom Hill, announced he was temporarily stepping aside from his post to allow a review to be carried out.

Mr Hill was sacked, then re-employed by the Northern Ireland Hospice.

Last month, he said he was giving back some of the 80,000 damages he was paid for unfair dismissal and then began work as the charity's chief executive.

His suspension, then sacking, as the charity's administrative director caused two years of turmoil within the organisation.

In a statement released after Wednesday's meeting, the hospice renewed its call for a review to be carried out by the Department of Health.

It said: "The hospice needs the department's full engagement in carrying out this review for their to be a conclusive resolution of all issues.

"The department can be assured of the full cooperation and support of everyone involved."

Financial problems

Mr Hill's appointment as chief executive came at a time of financial crisis for the hospice - in June it asked the Stormont government for 1m to help it out of its difficulties.

Earlier this year, it was revealed the organisation, which has running costs of 6m a year, is currently carrying a 600,000 deficit.

Following Mr Hill's departure, the management council resigned and a new council was co-opted.

This angered many hospice members - prompting some volunteers to work elsewhere.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC NI's Will Leitch reports:
"The meeting was the latest development in a public and very bitter row in the Hospice movement"
BBC NI's Tara MIlls:
"It's hoped the review will begin as soon as possible"
See also:

21 Oct 02 | N Ireland
06 Sep 02 | N Ireland
18 Jun 02 | N Ireland
23 May 02 | N Ireland
17 May 01 | N Ireland
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