'Nonsense' for council to take over St Clare's Hospice, says town hall chief

It would be ‘nonsense’ for town hall chiefs to take on responsibility for replacing Jarrow’s doomed St Clare’s Hospice, a council boss has said.

Thursday, 9th January 2020, 10:04 am
Former St. Clare's Hospice, Jarrow.

The centre shut down in January 2019 after collapsing into insolvency, leaving the borough without a dedicated facility for end-of-life care – and prompting debates over what should take its place.

Some have called for a like-for-like replacement at the hospice’s former base in Primrose Hill, but bosses at South Tyneside Council (STC) have distanced themselves from the prospect of overseeing such a project.

“I think the council should be taking the lead on palliative care,” said Coun James Sewell, who represents Jarrow’s Monkton ward on STC.

“I know it wasn’t anything to do with the council, but we have to start thinking about taking it on board because that’s what people want.”

Coun Sewell was speaking at a meeting of the council’s Overview and Scrutiny Coordinating and Call-in Committee, which included a presentation on spending plans for 2020/21 with the town hall’s finance chiefs.

But his suggestion the council take responsibility for a new end-of-life care facility in the borough were dismissed by deputy council leader Ed Malcolm.

He said: “You know what the situation is regarding palliative care in South Tyneside, you know there’s a plan to accommodate palliative care in South Tyneside.

“We already have cost pressures on adult social care, so inviting further pressures by borrowing money to create something which is not our responsibility would be a bit of a nonsense.”

A decision on the future of palliative care in South Tyneside was expected last year, but was delayed due to the general election.

St Clare’s collapsed into insolvency and shut its doors in January after more than 30 years providing care at its base in Primrose Hill.

In 2018 it had been forced into two temporary closures, one after the Care Quality Commission (CQC) raised concerns about care and another due to staff shortages.

NHS bosses have said they hope a new ‘spoke and hub’ model of care, with a greater focus on community services and a ‘hub’ ‘within the vicinity of South Tyneside District Hospital’, could ease some of these problems.

South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which is leading planning for new palliative care services, had said this would not be located in an ‘acute ward environment’, but has also said it cannot yet confirm where this might be based.

Late in 2019, some campaigners had called for a new charity to be founded to take over running palliative care in the borough.

Health and council chiefs, however, were dubious about notions.