Bosses at St Clare's Hospice say they have made the "difficult decision" to close the service for three weeks as it faces "challenges with the recruitment of specialist doctors."
The Jarrow-based charity, which relies on specialist palliative care and end-of-life doctors and a dedicated nursing team, will close temporarily from Monday until Sunday, August 12.
Avril Robinson, chief executive of St Clare’s Hospice, said: “Whilst recognising that the decision to pause services at St Clare’s Hospice has not been an easy one to make, we cannot provide care and support to our patients and their family members without maintaining best and safe practice.
"I wholly understand, of course, that this decision will be perceived as a setback but, in reality, it will enable the hospice teams to resume full services, as planned, in mid-August and re-commence safe, high quality care to the community of South Tyneside.
“We have successfully recruited three new hospice physicians to our team, but the recruitment process has taken longer than initially anticipated and the hospice will therefore not have a full complement of hospice physicians until mid-August."
During this period, all patients needing specialist hospice care and support should continue to be referred to St Clare’s in the usual way.
The hospice’s clinical team will ensure that all patients receive the care they need, working closely with the nearby Marie Curie, St Benedict’s, and St Oswald’s hospices, as well as South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust.
Calls to the South Tyneside 24/7 palliative care advice line - (0191) 529 7108 - will be automatically forwarded to the St Benedict’s Hospice clinical team.
During this brief closure, hospice staff will be utilising the time available to refresh their training and to pursue professional development opportunities.
Dr Shaz Wahid, medical director, at South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust said: “We recognise this has been a difficult decision for our partners at St Clare’s Hospice, however patient safety is paramount and must always come first.
"We fully support the proactive steps being taken and are working together with colleagues across the NHS to ensure patients and their families across South Tyneside continue to have access to high quality end-of-life- care whilst services are temporarily suspended at St Clare’s.
"We look forward to the Hospice resuming full services in August.”
On behalf of the STCCG, Matt Brown, director of operations at NHS South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “This was a difficult decision for St Clare’s to
make, but we will work closely with our partners in the NHS to support the hospice through this period and ensure that they are able to offer patients and families every help and
The hospice says anyone who would like further information can visit www.stclareshospice.co.uk/news-updates.