Campaigners aim to create new hospice for South Tyneside after giving up hope on saving St Clare’s

St Clare's Hospice campaigners with their petition outside Monkton Hall, Jarrow.
St Clare's Hospice campaigners with their petition outside Monkton Hall, Jarrow.

Campaigners say they have given up on their hope that a shut-down hospice cen be re-opned - despite raising over 5,000 signatures to save it.

As the 5,500-name petition to save St Clare’s Hospice was handed to health chiefs yesterday, they now have their signts on a

Roger Nettleship.

Roger Nettleship.

replacement.

St Clare’s closed its doors in January due to financial difficulties and palliative care nurses behind the petition concede the Primrose Terrace centre in Jarrow, which opened in 1987, has no direct future.

But they insist the highly specialist support it delivered to people requiring end of life care must be maintained in South Tyneside - not in neighbouring health districts.

They want NHS bosses to fund a new centre - or benefactors to come forward to support its creation and upkeep.

Related: St Clare’s Hospice closes after more than 30 years

Along with the Save South Tyneside Hospital Campaign (SSTHC), they are now in talks with NHS South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which plans and commission health services.

Yesterday two members of the campaign handed their petition to Matt Brown, executive director of operations for NHS South Tyneside CCG.

A spokeswoman for the campaign said: “We will never get St Clare’s back as it was. Our aim is to now get something similar to it.

“We need a hospice in South Tyneside so that patients have a choice of where they go to die. No one, especially a child, wants to see a parent or loved one die at home.”

SSTHC chairman Roger Nettleship said St Benedict’s Hospice in Sunderland received financial backing from the health service - and demanded South Tyneside be likewise supported.

He said: “The petition has been signed by around 5,500 people who are demanding St Clare’s reopen. Why should people in South Tyneside lose a vital palliative care service?

“People are not going to accept the closure of this vital service in South Tyneside.”

St Clare’s, which operated as a charity, was put into voluntary suspension last September after twice being criticised by inspectorate the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in nine months.

St Clare’s required £2.2m a year to maintain services, which came mostly from volunteer fundraising and donations but also a sizeable chunk from the CCG.

Mr Brown said: “The closure of St Clare’s was a sad moment for our community, but our priority now must be to explore the best options for the future and find out more about what people in South Tyneside need and want at such an important time.

“We provided as much support as we possibly could for St Clare’s as an independent charity, but it no longer exists so our focus is on getting it right for the future.

“We want to create a new service that can deliver the best possible care for local people.

“In the meantime, patients needing palliative care are being cared for at Marie Curie, St Benedict’s, and St Oswald’s hospices, with support from South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust.”