40 Faces of hospice care | Meet Chris Wheway, Chief Executive

6th July 2023

Black and white photograph of man with short hair and beard, wearing button-up shirt. On black background with logo in top left corner in white and yellow with text "40 Faces"

Five years ago, Chris took on his biggest challenge yet – no, not the St Barnabas CEO role, but 35 fundraisers to support the hospice in its 35th year!

His role at our helm played only a small part in his decision to test his mettle over 12 months. His affinity for end-of-life care began many years ago. At the age of 7, Chris’ father died and his mum became one of the country’s first Hospice at Home nurses. As a regular visitor to St Margaret’s Hospice in Somerset as a child and seeing friends experience hospice care as an adult, end-of-life care has been a constant in his life. And today it holds a special place in his heart.

So when Chris took on the St Barnabas Chief Executive role in 2015 following 20+ years in the NHS, he was fired up and ready to play his part in hospice care. Chris had one ambition: to lead a high-quality, well-regulated organisation capable of caring for more people, making a bigger impact and influencing the rest of the healthcare system that dignified end-of-life care is vital.

Under his guidance, St Barnabas has risen to the challenge, and he’s helped us make great strides. Today we live and breathe our values, our workforce satisfaction improves year after year and we’re more resilient and sustainable as an organisation. Not only have we achieved CQC Outstanding rating under Chris’s leadership too, but we’re caring for more people each year.

His drive and commitment to making sure everyone in Lincolnshire facing end-of-life gets high-quality care means he continues to strive for more. And he wears multiple hats to help make that happen – CEO, volunteer, and fundraiser. In fact, he often wears them all at the same time! While helping in our sorting centre for the day, a bag of shirts caught his eye. Happily for Chris and our funds, they fit him perfectly, and we made an easy sale! Our shops continue to be the first place he checks when he needs something new!

In his own words…

“Every single person in our Hospice team is dedicated to making a difference. What they do daily, directly and indirectly, for patients and families is mind-blowing. When I go out with our nurses to visit patients at home, I see the care close-up, and it’s a reminder of what it’s all about.

“We visited one home, and while we were having a cup of tea with the family and talking about how they were managing, one of our healthcare assistants ended up dancing with the patient. It put a sparkle in his eye again, and that’s as important as every other aspect of our care.”

To see all 40 Faces and their stories, please visit: https://stbarnabashospice.co.uk/40faces

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