Call for more Government cash for cancer care in South Tyneside following collapse of St Clare's Hospice

Council bosses have spoken out on future options for end of life care in South Tyneside.

Friday, 18th October 2019, 11:45 am
Updated Friday, 18th October 2019, 12:45 pm
The former St Clare's Hospice, Jarrow.

St Clare’s Hospice in Jarrow collapsed into insolvency in January after more than 30 years of providing care in the borough.

In recent months, South Tyneside’s Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) started an ‘engagement’ process to look at future options for palliative care.

Early proposals have suggested a ‘spoke and hub model’ including ‘spoke’ community services supported by a ‘hub’ providing inpatient beds.

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This aims to be provided within the borough and preferably close to the South Tyneside District Hospital site, although no decision has been made on the location.

Council leader and Horsley Hill councillor, Iain Malcolm, while praising the work of the charity sector in supporting palliative care, said the government should do more to fund it.

“In terms of the funding of this service not just here, but across the country, it’s something that we need to be pressing parliament and members of parliament on,” he said.

“It’s alright saying [the St Clare’s closure] shouldn’t have happened but we need to find a long-term solution not just here but across the country in terms of palliative care.

“It should be something that is funded by the NHS, there should be a core service and we need to be getting our MPs onto that.”

The comments came during a meeting of the East Shields and Whitburn Community Area Forum last week during a report on palliative care (October 10).

Chief executive officer at South Tyneside CCG, Dr David Hambleton, said the CCG would continue to provide funds towards end of life care.

This includes an annual contribution of £800,000 which it previously contributed to running costs at St Clare’s Hospice.

“That’s still on the table, no one is under any illusions that we will need at least that amount that we have already committed,” he told the meeting.

“What we may have to do is commit more than that and we’re very happy to have that type of conversation.

“The bigger question about who should be funding this, is one you can take up with the Department of Health and central government.

“I will say the help the NHS receives from the charitable sector is significant.

“It would be a big ask for the NHS to do everything the charitable sector does and we can’t commission some of the services that the charities do – I can’t legally commission things like complementary therapies.

“There has to be a role for the charitable sector somewhere along the line but where that balance is is a totally legitimate question.”

In 2018, St Clare’s was forced into two temporary closures, once because of concerns raised by health watchdog the Care Quality Commission and once due to staffing shortages.

In June 2019, the government body the Charity Commission confirmed it was reviewing the recent closure.

At the community area forum meeting, councillors said it was important to provide an end of life service that went beyond a hospital ward in future.

Deputy leader of South Tyneside Council and Whitburn and Marsden ward councillor, Tracey Dixon, said the location should be chosen carefully.

“From the council’s perspective, there was a clear directive that came from the council with regards to all residents in South Tyneside,” she said.

“That was that our residents need to have a choice, if they aren’t able to have the end of life care at home, they had to be an option in South Tyneside for our residents.”

She added:”Whilst I’m devastated about St Clare’s, I do welcome this initial [CCG] report.

“It does give us a clear steer to what is hopefully going to be proposed in South Tyneside which won’t be end of life on a ward, it will be something bespoke and to fit the needs of our residents.

“In South Tyneside, it needs to be in the right place for our residents to have the choice.”