St Clare’s Hospice closure: End-of-life care plan for South Tyneside due for release this year

St Clare's Hospice
St Clare's Hospice

Plans for end of life care in South Tyneside - following the closure of St Clare’s Hospice - are due to be revealed later this year.

The troubled centre, in Primrose Terrace, Jarrow, was forced to shut in January after going into liquidation because of financial problems.

Care chiefs have now confirmed they are about to start work on proposals to replace the service, which are expected to be revealed by the end of June.

Mark Girven, of the North of England Commissioning Support Unit, told a meeting of South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG): “The hospice’s closure was on the back of financial pressures and quality concerns which led to its temporary closure,”

“The system’s response to that closure had not been to recommission on a like-for-like basis, but to identify the specific end of life care needs in South Tyneside.”

He said: “We will be engaging with and speaking to health and social care staff, hard to reach groups and our patients and residents to develop a model that fits with the outcome of those discussions.”

Mr Girvan said an ‘independent organisation’ had been contracted to carry out this research before proposals for the future of palliative care in the borough are brought back to the CCG.

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Since the eight-bed hospice was closed, services have been provided by St Benedict’s Hospice, in Sunderland, and St Oswald’s Hospice, in Newcastle.

According to a report prepared for NHS bosses, St Clare’s Hospice was funded ‘primarily via charitable contributions’.

It also received about £730,000 a year from the health service, although, according to financial statements available through the Charity Commission, South Tyneside CCG backed it to the tune of £860,000 in 2017.

The hospice was temporarily closed in September last year (2018) following an inspection by the Care Quality Commission which called for improvements in clinical leadership and governance, auditing practices and staff training and development.

A statement on the hospice’s website blamed the four-month shutdown for ‘severely restricted fund raising’.

Matt Brown, director of operations at South Tyneside CCG, said: “When the inspection happened the hospice was closed for three months and we put a similar plan in place and in some ways we’ve got more capacity now.

“It’s not the ideal, but we have a system that works as best as it can for people with end of life needs.”

James Harrison , Local Democracy Reporting Service