Hopes to launch new charity following collapse of St Clare's Hospice in South Tyneside

A new charity could be sent up in a bid to keep end of life care at the former St Clare’s Hospice site, campaigners hope.

Saturday, 26th October 2019, 9:00 am
Updated Sunday, 27th October 2019, 4:28 pm
St Clare's Hospice

Plans for the future of palliative services in South Tyneside are being drawn up which are expected to see a new base set up in South Shields.

But opponents of NHS chiefs’ proposals for a ‘spoke and hub’ model have said they could take matters into their own hands in an attempt to see the centre, in Jarrow, reopened.

“I think we’re getting to the point where the CCG is saying ‘this is your future of palliative care’,” said independent councillor John Robertson.

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“The only way I would be doing a new charity is if we can clear hurdle number one – can we have a discussion with the NHS about taking on a lease for the land?

“If we can cross that hurdle then we can start and I’m already talking to people who are knowledgeable in the running of hospices.”

St Clare’s collapsed into insolvency and shut its doors in January (2018) after more than 30 years providing care at its base in Primrose Hill.

The year before (2018) it had been forced into two temporary closures, one after the Care Quality Commission (CQC) raised concerns about care and another due to staff shortages.

NHS bosses have said they hope a new ‘spoke and hub’ model of care, with a greater focus on community services and a ‘hub’ ‘within the vicinity of South Tyneside District Hospital’, could ease some of these problems.

South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which is leading planning for new palliative care services, had said this would not be located in an ‘acute ward environment’, but has also said it cannot yet confirm where this might be based.

A petition calling on the CCG to ‘return palliative care to [the] St Clare’s Hospice site’ set up this week has already gained more than 1,700 signatures.

Before it closed the CCG gave St Clare’s about £800,000 a year towards palliative care costs, with the remaining funds needed to run the hospice provided through donations.

Coun Robertson claims there is enough support behind plans to resurrect the hospice to ‘raise the £2-3 million needed’ and also thinks overheads could be cut by a third.

The CCG has already said its plans will include ‘exploration of partnership arrangements with an organisation that is able to generate charitable contributions’.

Asked about the prospect of partnering with a newly established charity to return end of life care to the St Clare’s site at last week’s (Thursday, October 17) Jarrow Community Area Forum (CAF), Matt Brown, the CCG’s director of operations called it ‘a difficult question to answer’.

“There’s so much detail behind that,” he said, “if we’re going to talk about a charity or charities running a £2-3 million-a-year service then we have to be clear about what they’re running.

“Have they run a hospice before?

“There’s all the governance things we have to have in place and there’s some red lines that would have to be crossed first.”