NHS pushes back plans for the future of end of life care in South Tyneside due to Covid-19

NHS bosses have been forced to push back plans for the future of end of life care in South Tyneside due to coronavirus.

Former St Clare's Hospice, Jarrow.
Former St Clare's Hospice, Jarrow.

The borough has been without a dedicated palliative care facility since the former St Clare’s Hospice collapsed into insolvency.

Proposals for the service are now due to be ready by September, but health chiefs have also warned the financial hit caused by the COVID-19 outbreak could force an overhaul of the expected ‘spoke and hub’ model previously outlined.

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“There’s two issues for us,” said Matt Brown, director of operations at South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

“The landscape for us to make significant investment decisions is different to a year ago and we will have to reflect that.

“We’ve talked about the opportunity to make sure we engage charitable fundraising in our decision making, but we have to be realistic that the advice we’re getting on the economic position of the country means this may be much more challenging.

“There may be a more difficult decision to make in September about how we develop a palliative care hub with inpatient beds in South Tyneside.”

Brown was speaking at today’s (Thursday, May 21) meeting of South Tyneside CCG’s governing body, which was held by video conference and broadcast via Youtube.

Care bosses have previously said St Clare’s Hospice’s former base in Jarrow is unlikely to be reopened.

Instead, following research which the CCG said showed many patients wished to die at home, focus has shifted to providing more community services with a ‘hub’ also available to families seeking hospice-style care.

But chiefs have also signalled they may delay a decision further to avoid compromising plans.

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Dr Matthew Walmsley, chairman of the CCG, said: “The governing body is not asking for a paper to be brought for decision if it’s thought to be the wrong time for a decision.

“We would like to make a decision as soon as we can, but we also need to make the right decision.

“If we cannot make a decision quickly with confidence it is the right one we must postpone it if there’s a risk of making the wrong decision through uncertainty.”

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