Health chiefs to consider 3,000-signature petition calling for St Clare's Hospice to reopen

A formal call to reopen the former St Clare’s Hospice site in Jarrow is due to be considered by NHS chiefs.

Wednesday, 22nd January 2020, 4:45 pm
St Clare's Hospice

The centre was forced to close a year ago following St Clare’s collapse into insolvency, leaving South Tyneside without a dedicated facility providing end-of-life care.

Health bosses for the borough have been working on plans to replace the service, with proposals raised for a ‘spoke and hub’ system including a ‘physical hospice’ near the current South Tyneside District Hospital.

But campaigners have continued to call for a complete return of all palliative and end of life care to the former Primrose Terrace base of St Clare’s Hospice.

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A 3,232-signature petition demanding such a move will be debated at a meeting of the South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group’s (CCG) governing body on Thursday, January 23.

Titled ‘Return palliative care to St Clare’s hospice site’, it states: “The good people of South Tyneside want and need a hospice building at the St Clare’s building in Jarrow.”

The petition was handed over towards the end of 2019, just before the start of general election campaigning, meaning it fell foul of strict ‘purdah’ rules, limiting discussions and decisions which could be taken on the future of palliative care.

According to a report for the CCG’s governing body, the meeting is the ‘first opportunity for the CCG to formally consider the petition in the public domain’.

It adds campaigning restrictions had also delayed negotiations over where a new hospice could be based within the borough.

Before the closure of St Clare’s, the CCG continued about £800,000 a year to the costs of palliative and end-of-life care in South Tyneside and although this is due to continue it is not expected to ‘cover the costs of the new model’.

This has prompted talks with other organisations who could run or support a new service, prompting ‘considerable interest’, but also concerns over future funding and ‘perceived risk to reputation and finances’.

Care chiefs have previously said the prospect of a like-for-like replacement for the former hospice is ‘not a credible option’.

Earlier this month South Tyneside councillor John Robertson claimed a properly coordinated public appeal could raise the cash needed to reopen the site.