40 Faces of hospice care | Meet Sarah-Jane Mills, former CEO

10th March 2023

A lady, Sarah-Jane Mills, who is former CEO of St Barnabas Hospice, photographed in black and white, against a black backdrop

Sarah-Jane joined St Barnabas in 2006 and spent the following nine years as our Chief Executive. Her influence is still acutely apparent across the Hospice today.

In those early days, she was amazed by how the dedication of a small group of people brought Hospice care to Lincolnshire and developed it into something significant. And what happened under her leadership mirrored that in many ways.

Sarah-Jane drove fundamental change at the Hospice. Struck by the ambition of the trustees, staff and volunteers, she worked with colleagues to establish a strategic partnership with the NHS and other partners that brought services together to make sure people who needed Hospice support and care could access it. Where once patients and families discovered St Barnabas through a chance conversation with a friend or neighbour, the partnership made sure anyone diagnosed with a terminal illness could more consistently get support from St Barnabas.

Thanks to Sarah-Jane, and in partnership with Marie Curie, St Barnaba Hospice supported the development of new service models that enabled many more patients have access to palliative and hospice care in their own homes.

Sarah-Jane was keen to ensure that the expertise of the St Barnabas team informed the development of the first-ever end of life strategy and that St Barnabas was able to bring national policy to life for the people of Lincolnshire.

Behind her calm demeanour was a force to be reckoned with, and when Sarah-Jane brought together the senior management team, they embraced that spirited passion. There was a collective willingness to give things a go – to step into the unknown with the confidence they would pull together. Their approach paid off when they bravely challenged funding policy criteria that ruled out the chance to develop one of the most innovative approaches to end-of-life care. Their collective commitment to making the most of opportunities and to do the best by people, meant they turned the decision around. The result was funding to develop and open Grantham’s Hospice in the Hospital – another first.

Sarah-Jane did her very best and achieved so much for St Barnabas, our staff, patients and families. But she drew the line at jumping out of a plane for a fundraiser! However, she more than made up for it by walking the dark streets of Lincoln supporting our Midnight Walk, manning a draughty stall at Lincoln Christmas market, volunteering in our shops and visiting various fundraising events across the county. Despite much protesting, she even donned a onesie for a day in the office – and anyone who knows Sarah-Jane will be as surprised as we were!

It’s safe to say that Sarah-Jane has been integral to helping us become the Hospice we are today.

In her own words…

“I have very fond memories of my time at St Barnabas. I still remember being profoundly affected by the support for the Hospice. The things staff, volunteers and fundraisers did – and still do – to help keep services going were amazing. It demonstrates the depth of humanity that exists across all areas of the community.”


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

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