Mystery benefactor rumoured to be planning St Clare's reopening - but health chiefs say such a move is 'unlikely' to succeed
It is "incredibly unlikely" an individual or organisation will be able to convince NHS chiefs they have the resources to return palliative care to the former St Clare's Hospice, but bosses have not totally ruled it out.
NHS chiefs have not ruled out a future return to Jarrow’s former St Clare’s Hospice site, but have insisted such a move is ‘incredibly unlikely’.
On September 24, health bosses in South Tyneside approved plans to open a new palliative care service based in South Shields.
The decision came 20 months after the collapse of the hospice charity left the borough without its own dedicated end of life facility.
But following rumours a benefactor could be working on proposals to revive the Primrose Hill centre, questions have been raised over what this could mean for the new model.
“If a third sector or private investor could come in, could we embrace that?,” asked Fellgate and Hedworth borough councillor Geraldine Kilgour.
“There are mutterings out there that that is a possibility?
“Where would we stand with such an investor coming in at this late stage?”
Cllr Kilgour was speaking at a meeting of South Tyneside Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Coordinating and Call-in Committee, which was held by videolink and broadcast via YouTube.
Suggestions have previously been raised, including by independent opposition councillor John Robertson, of a new charity being formed to resurrect services at the former St Clare’s Hospice site.
But according to bosses at South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), who have promised to almost double the cash available for palliative care in South Tyneside to £1.5million per year, the charity sector is currently ‘on its knees’, due to dwindling fundraising.
Concerns were also raised about the ability of a new organisation to get to grips with the complexities of end of life care
“It’s about funding an organisation we can work with, where there are financially sustainable resources and the ability to recruit a workforce,” said Matt Brown, the CCG’s executive director of operations.
“We want a dignified, homely environment, but there still has to be excellent clinical care.”
He added: “If there is a genuine, robust business case, then I will certainly have a look, but it will have to fulfil the same criteria of any organisation we commission from.”
Cllr Gladys Hobson, who was involved with St Clare’s Hospice when it was first being established, agreed, adding: “If someone comes forward in the future, I will work with them, but at present there is no one there, just a lot of people signing a petition, but not a credible business plan.”
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