South Tyneside’s only hospice - which shut down temporarily after a critical standards inspection - is to miss its earliest reopening deadline, bosses have admitted.
St Clare’s Hospice is now targeting December – rather than November – for the possible return of patients.
Bosses at the centre, in Primrose Terrace. concede that will depend on them making enough progress to trigger a follow-up inspection from independent regulator the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
Criticism of backroom services by the CQC following a snap inspection in September led to the voluntary suspension of services.
The CQC warned clinical leadership and governance, including auditing and staff training and development – but not frontline care – were not up to scratch.
At the time, hospice chief executive Avril Robinson said it would be a minimum of eight weeks to reopening.
Ms Robinson now admits that a better understanding of the necessary scope of work means the early date will not be met.
She said: “Since the inspection last month and the ensuing temporary suspension of services, update meetings have been taking place with the CQC and the South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group.
“These meetings will continue until such time that the St Clare’s Hospice team is confident to trigger a follow-up CQC inspection – currently planned for December – with the hope of resuming its regulated services as soon as possible.
“However, it is important to stress that the ultimate decision will be that of the CQC.”
Ms Robinson insisted an improvement plan submitted to the CQC within a week of closure was bringing significant progress.
She said revisions to policies and procedures and safeguarding updates were going to plan under the leadership of Paul Jones-King, appointed Director of Clinical Services in September.
Other improvements include to reviews of audit management and reporting, delivery of mandatory training updates, the creation of internal team development opportunities and internal communication.
Ms Robinson added: “I firmly believe that the CQC inspection outcomes will enable us to resume our services from a much stronger position than has ever been achieved before.
“St Clare’s Hospice intends to lead the way in helping local people understand that specialist palliative and end of life care doesn’t mean the end of living.
“But we need the continuing support of the South Tyneside people if we are to get there – now and in the future.
“I would also like to express my sincere thanks to the people of South Tyneside for believing in us as we strive to better serve the community by providing well-led, safe, effective and responsive services. We are getting stronger each day.”