Building houses on St Clare's Hospice site 'would be a sin,' claims campaigner as row rumbles on
It has been almost exactly a year since the palliative care centre collapsed into insolvency, leaving South Tyneside without a dedicated end of life service.
But independent councillor John Robertson thinks a sustained public appeal could raise the cash needed to resurrect the much loved facility.
“It is about getting the care back to that terrific surrounding [at Primrose Terrace],” he told a meeting of South Tyneside Council.
“[The hospice buildings] are only standing empty and haven’t been demolished because of all the hoo-hah since it closed – there can never be houses on that land, it would be a sin.
“We never got the chance to do a public appeal, but I’ve no doubt at least £1million would come in if we do, if this council announced a public appeal we could have it open again by July.”
Coun Robertson, one of six opposition councillors, was speaking in support of a motion he tabled requesting council to do more to reopen palliative care services at St Clare’s former base in Primrose Terrace, in Jarrow.
This included calls for a cross-party working group to be set up on end of life care and for all councillors to give their backing to the Save St Clare’s Hospice campaign.
The council later backed a Labour amendment which removed reference to the campaign group but which asked NHS bosses to give ‘serious consideration’ to reopening the former hospice site in Primrose Terrace.
“I’m a realist,” said Coun John McCabe, “despite the work in the 1980s and 1990s with the volunteers, this is what is required now.
“The reality now is the money is not there, central government does not see it as a statutory requirement to provide [palliative care] and that is a disgrace.
“I’m not being political, no party I am aware of has it in their manifesto to make [provision of palliative care] a statutory requirement.”
The council had already written to the Department of Health and Social Care and the Charity Commission, which confirmed it is probing the closure of St Clare’s Hospice.