Decision on replacement for St Clare's will be delayed by general election, say health chiefs

A decision on the future of end-of-life care in South Tyneside is set to be delayed until after the general election.

Thursday, 31st October 2019, 5:01 pm
Updated Thursday, 31st October 2019, 8:14 pm
Former St. Clare's Hospice, Jarrow.

This week MPs backed plans to go to the ballot boxes on December 12 and October 31 saw the official launch of the Labour Party’s campaign.

But according to NHS chiefs, the rush to the polls will push back an announcement on plans to replace Jarrow’s former St Clare’s Hospice by at least a month.

“It may be a bit longer until we can confirm some of the details people want to see, such as the location,” said Matt Brown, South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group’s (CCG) director of operations.

“I would have liked to make a final decision in November, but it is probably going to be in December now.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

“We’re covered by Cabinet Office guidelines, so we’re restricted to what decisions we can make, but we can hopefully make sure all the background work is done so that afterwards it doesn’t restrict us further.”

Mr Brown was speaking at a meeting of South Tyneside Council’s West Shields, Cleadon and East Boldon Community Area Forum (CAF).

A report for CCG bosses in September outlined proposals for a ‘spoke and hub’ model for palliative care, with a greater emphasis on home and community services.

St Clare’s Hospice collapsed into insolvency and shut down in January 2019, leaving the borough without a dedicated facility for end of life care.

Mr Brown has previously said it is ‘unlikely’ St Clare’s former Primrose Hill base could reopen, while the CCG proposals have suggested a new ‘hub’ could be ‘in the vicinity of’ South Tyneside District Hospital.

It is hoped this will make it easier for doctors and nurses from the main hospital to work at the hospice, following staffing problems which forced St Clare’s into a temporary closure in 2018.

Further decisions on the future of palliative care were supposed to be made at the November meeting of the CCG’s governing body.

But strict ‘purdah’ rules, which restrict the announcements and decisions government departments can make during an election campaign, mean this will be delayed.