AN INVESTIGATION into the affairs of Bury Hospice is set to bear fruit in the next month, those in charge have said.

In February, the hospice board of trustees appointed an independent management consultant to find out what had gone wrong at the charity since it moved into its Rochdale Old Road base in 2013.

Acting chairman Margaret Lloyd said she expected the consultant's work to take six weeks, and, according to Stuart North, chief officer of NHS Bury Clinical Commission Group, the work is on track.

Mr North said the consultant is due to conclude her work in the first two weeks of March before tabling her findings — and any recommendations — to Mr North and a panel that he has appointed, including Bury Council's executive Mike Owen.

Mr North said: "I would imagine that, once we have received that information and had chance to discuss it, it will take us another two weeks or so to make our own recommendations and share them with the board of trustees for them to consider."

If the consultant stays on track, that could mean that recommendations are implemented at the start of April.

At the centre of the investigation is the question of how the hospice's losses surpassed £500,000 in a single tax year.

Other questions have been asked about alleged bullying of staff, the controversial resignation of two trustees and an alleged lack of facilities for patients.

However, hospice sources have told the Bury Times that, since Stephen Greenhalgh took over as acting chief executive, they feel more able to share concerns than they did before the turn of the year

One hospice worker, who asked not to be named, said: "It has got better and we feel that we can bring things forward now without the risk of problems, though the outcome of this investigation must come soon, to clear the slate."

Jacqui Comber, the hospice's chief executive, remains suspended without prejudice until the investigation ends.

Mr North said: "From what I have seen, the consultant leading this investigation has had full access to all documents and records and full access to all the staff that should be spoken to about their experiences. That is encouraging."