A MOVE to close the in-patient department of a Somerset hospice - and how it was decided - is being looked at by charity regulators.

The Charity Commission has confirmed it has opened a 'regulatory compliance case' over the way in which management and the trustees of St Margaret’s Hospice came to the decision to close the In-Patient Unit at the charity's Yeovil facility.

St Margaret's Hospice said it will be 'fully support and cooperate' with the commission.

A spokesperson for the Charity Commission said: “Charity trustees must ensure that decisions are always made in the best interests of their charity.

"Further to concerns raised with us surrounding the closure of St Margaret’s Somerset Hospice’s inpatient service at Yeovil, we have opened a regulatory compliance case into the charity, in order to carry out verification and assurance on the trustees’ decision making.

"We recognise the distress that will be felt by those affected by the closure and expect the trustees to be doing everything they can to minimise the impact of their decision on the community.”

Yeovil MP Marcus Fysh said he had joined members of the community who contacted the Charity Commission in calling for the decision making surrounding the closure to be looked at.

"I welcome this move from the Charity Commission who have decided to open a regulatory compliance case to review the decision making of the Trustees," he said.

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"I have been working with many community groups and individuals who have been affected by this, as well as studying the evidence and public opinion around hospice care, and I am glad to say that the decision to close the in-patient unit is now being investigated by the Charity Commission," he added.

The Charity Commission declined to call the move an 'investigation'. 

Since the announcement of the closure, several petitions have been created opposing the plan, garnering thousands of signatures.

In a statement, St Margaret's said: "St Margaret’s Hospice Care has been notified by the Charity Commission that they will be carrying out verification and assurance on the trustees’ decision making relating to the remodelling of our services.

"Trustees will fully support and cooperate with the commission.

"St Margaret’s Hospice values the regulatory role the Charity Commission undertakes for charities. We await the conclusion."