A SOUTH Tyneside hospice is taking a financial hit after a health care’s trust decision to temporarily close the facility it shares a home with, it has emerged.
Six people with life-limiting conditions were this week transferred from Jarrow’s Primrose Hill Hospital, a specialist palliative care unit, to ward 22 at the South Tyneside District Hospital in South Shields.
The borough’s NHS Foundation Trust has closed the unit on a temporary basis so its 15 staff can be seconded to help cope with an increase in emergency admissions at the Harton Lane hospital.
The unit is located within St Clare’s Hospice in Primrose Terrace.
Now hospice bosses have now spoken out to assure the borough public that its long-term future remains secure.
It has also emerged that the hospice – which needs to carry out fundraising to cover two thirds of its annual £2m running costs – will need to find an additional £20,000 as a result of its neighbour’s departure.
It shared night-time staff with Primrose Hill and will now have to draft in additional workers itself to plug the staffing gap.
But today a spokesman for the hospice reassured the local community it was “business as usual”.
David Hall, hospice chief executive, said: “Although we are disappointed that Primrose Hill Hospital has moved to the main hospital site in South Shields, this does not affect any of our services. It does unfortunately affect our cost as we have had to strengthen the team of night staff for health and safety reasons, whereas before we could ‘share’ tasks and site responsibilities.
“This is like to add over £20,000 to our costs over the three to four-month period.”
Following speculation that the staff and patients who were transferred to South Tyneside District Hospital may not return, Mr Hall said that was a matter for the Foundation Trust to decide, adding: “There are however no plans for St Clare’s to relocate. We have a long-term lease with the Trust which has decades left to run. We have spent the last seven years updating our facilities and we are committed to staying where we are”.
Steve Williamson, the Trust’s chief operating officer, said: “The closure of Primrose Hill Hospital is temporary. Our staff from there are now working with their colleagues at the district hospital, while we deal with the continuing, unprecedented demand on services. As part of this, we have opened an additional winter pressures ward at the district hospital.
“We expect this arrangement to continue for the next three months. All of our staff are continuing to do a magnificent job in ensuring safe patient services and we are extremely proud of them.”