St Clare's Hospice closes after more than 30 years

St Clare's Hospice in Jarrow has closed.
St Clare's Hospice in Jarrow has closed.

St Clare's Hospice has announced it has closed after entering into insolvent liquidation.

The Jarrow based hospice has been providing specialist care and support to adults living with life-limiting illnesses and their families in South Tyneside since it opened in 1987.

But now the hospice in Primrose Terrace, has announced it has closed today following a decision to enter into insolvent liquidation.

The charitable trust which runs the hospice has faced severe financial difficulties for a number of years, which has been compounded by a prolonged period of closure last year, leaving it insolvent.

The hospice was temporarily closed in September last year following an inspection by health watchdogs from the Care Quality Commission, the independent regulator of all health and social care services in England.

Its team found improvements needed to be made in key areas, including clinical leadership and governance, such as auditing procedures and staff training and development.

The hospice reopened earlier this year after the CQC found the improvements had been made, but now the hospice has confirmed it has been forced to close due to financial difficulties.

Its former chief executive Avril Robinson, who was appointed in the role in March 2017, left the role in December 2018, after the report.

The hospice has annual operating costs of £2.2m and usually raises £1.8m each year through voluntary giving, with the balance coming from the contracts with the South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

The hospice said the closure of its in-patient and day services for four months last year severely restricted fundraising.

Chief executive, Paul Jones-King, confirmed that there are no patients currently at the hospice.

He said: “It is with the deepest regret that we have had to take this decision, but we have no option given the financial position.

“We know it is devastating news for our employees, our volunteers and our patients and we have done all we can to avoid this situation.

"However our focus now is on making sure our employees and volunteers are appropriately looked after.

“We are working closely with all health system partners to urgently discuss what alternative arrangements can be put in place for people in South Tyneside who need palliative and end of life care.

“The hospice has provided an in-patient service, wellbeing centre and bereavement counselling service for almost 30 years.

"We would like to express our thanks to all who have been part of our St Clare’s Hospice community over the last 30 years and who have supported us throughout that time.

"The hospice has provided care and support to around 5000 families in South Tyneside over the years, something only made possible by our dedicated team of staff and volunteers and the generosity of our local community.”

Tracey Bleakley, chief executive of Hospice UK added: “We are very sorry to hear that St Clare’s Hospice in Jarrow is closing.

"We understand this is a difficult time for the hospice’s staff and those who have supported its work in the local community.

“It is good that the hospice is working with other local care providers and commissioners to ensure that there is appropriate alternative care for people with terminal and life-limiting
conditions in the area.

“The current economic climate is challenging for many hospices which are operating in a very tough fundraising environment whilst supporting a growing older population and amidst pressures on the wider healthcare system."

Dr David Hambleton, chief officer of NHS South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “This will be a sad moment for many people in our community, from the caring staff team to the many local people who have supported the hospice over the years.

“We have been aware of the hospice’s difficulties, and over recent months we have provided as much support as we can for an independent charity.

“Patients and families rightly expect a range of high quality services at the most vulnerable time in their lives, and we will ensure that appropriate services continue to be available in the future.

“Patients needing palliative care will be referred to the nearby Marie Curie, St Benedict’s, and St Oswald’s hospices, with support from South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust and Sunderland City Hospitals, while we consider the best way forward for the longer term.”