Charity Commission to probe closure
A Government watchdog has revealed it is examining the closure of St Clare's Hospice - but stopped short of confirming a full investigation into the facility’s collapse.
Financial problems forced St Clare’s Hospice to shut its doors in January after more than 30 years providing end of life care.
And now the Charity Commission, which regulates the UK’s charities, has confirmed it examining the circumstances surrounding the closure.
A spokesman for the organisation said: “We are aware of the closure of St Clare’s Hospice and of concerns relating to the charity.
“We are assessing information, including a serious incident report submitted by the charity following our engagement, to establish what regulatory action may be required.”
However, although it is looking into the hospice’s closure, it has not yet committed itself to a full investigation.
In May Coun Rob Dix, chairman of South Tyneside Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Coordinating and Call-in Committee agreed to write to the Charity Commission to request an assessment of the events leading to St Clare’s collapse and even raised the prospect of a possible fraud probe.
In July 2018 a shortage of doctors forced the hospice to suspend care for three weeks, followed by a separate three-month closure in the September following a damning inspection by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) branded it ‘inadequate’.
The eight-bed facility in Primrose Terrace reopened in January, but financial problems later forced it to close for good, despite attempts to agree a last ditch deal with administrators.
“It’s right they investigate,” said Fellgate and Hedworth councillor Geraldine Kilgour, who also sits on the Overview and Scrutiny Coordinating and Call-in Committee, “we need answers as to the management of the charity.
“We need to know the facts, the truth of how this happened – there were auditors, there were financial obligations, but if you go back you can see they were having difficulties.”
Coun Kilgour also hit back at claims the council hadn’t done enough to keep the hospice open, adding: “We [the council] can only get involved at the appropriate time and we cannot cast aspersions we don’t know are the truth.
“We’ve tried to allow the procedure to go ahead unhindered, without affecting enquiries.”