Meet our New CEO, Rachel McMillan

Today I begin a new phase in my own personal history and that of St Ann’s, as I start my new role as Chief Executive of the hospice, and it’s certainly an interesting time to be taking the reins.

By Rachel McMillan on October 1, 2020

“As October begins, in many respects, it’s unbelievable to look back and think about how much has happened in 2020. All of our lives have changed in so many unimaginable ways.

“Today I begin a new phase in my own personal history and that of St Ann’s, as I start my new role as Chief Executive of the hospice, and it’s certainly an interesting time to be taking the reins.

“Whilst it’s not been what you’d call a normal year so far at the hospice, it may surprise many people to hear that during this period, we’ve actually been providing even more care and support than ever before.

“We’ve had to be fleet of foot, adapting to the changing guidance from our NHS, public health and government colleagues, whilst ensuring the needs and safety of our patients and their families, and the wellbeing of our staff and volunteers, has been at the centre of all decisions we make.

“Our teams have been on the front line, working on our wards, The Being You Centres and in our communities to ensure that those who need us – at what is often an incredibly difficult time in their lives – continue to feel supported and know we’re there for them with the specialist care that’s needed. It’s not just that specialist care that’s important either. For many of our patients, our teams were the only people that they spoke to or saw during lockdown, so we became a vital lifeline, helping them to know someone was there who cares.

“Being there for others is certainly something positive that has come out of the terrible situation we’ve all found ourselves in over the last year. In 2020, across all walks of life, we’ve all had to adapt and come together, uniting and supporting each other and our neighbours and wider communities, and that has really resonated with me when thinking about the hospice and our journey too.

“The hospice is only here because members of our local community created us almost half a century ago. That was only possible because other people in Greater Manchester joined them to embrace the cause and help create a new facility to care for patients who needed it. And the work of the hospice was only sustained thanks to those same local communities pulling together and supporting St Ann’s fundraising activities throughout those 50 years. What an incredible achievement.

“We simply wouldn’t be here without those communities that surround us and take us to their heart, and it’s important that every decision we make has our patients and their communities at its core.

“In recent years our previous Chief Executive Eamonn O’Neal has worked alongside teams from across the organisation to transform the way we work, and ensure we’re able to carry on providing care for many generations to come. He’s worked tirelessly together with colleagues to raise awareness of the issues hospices face, helping to forge partnerships, create strategic collaborations for the benefit of our patients and their loved ones, and ensure that as an organisation we’re ready to take on the challenges ahead.

“My role now is to take all of that fantastic work that has been done and, with the amazing team of staff and volunteers at the hospice, ensure that we continue to move forward apace. After all, at such a time of change both in the health and social care landscape, but also the wider world too, it’s more important than ever to keep moving forward. Our values and ethos remain the same today as they have done for many years, and will always be at the centre of everything we do, but we’re also adapting to ensure we remain fit for purpose and able to meet the needs of the patients who need us.

“I know many members of our local communities well already – I’ve been at the hospice for eight years, both as Director of Clinical Services and also most recently as Deputy Chief Executive too. But I’m looking forward to meeting even more of the amazing people that make up the St Ann’s family of patients, carers, donors, healthcare professionals, business owners, staff, volunteers, shop customers, lottery players, and so many more, as I begin my new role. Every member of our community really does make St Ann’s what it is.


“As we embark on the next exciting chapter in our historyimproving our hospice site in Little Hulton, and beginning an ambitious project to create a new building in Heald Green to ensure we can provide care for many decades to comeI’m proud to be part of such a unique and special family. We have such a privileged position in the lives of communities in Greater Manchester. Thank you to everyone who has been part of our journey so far, and to everyone who will be joining me and the rest of our St Ann’s family on the next leg of that exciting journey. I can’t wait to see what 2021 holds.”