Left out in the cold – Sunderland hospital misses out on Government’s £250million winter health fund

Sunderland Royal Hospital Accident and Emergency Department (A&E)
Sunderland Royal Hospital Accident and Emergency Department (A&E)
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SUNDERLAND Royal Hospital is to receive no extra Government funding during the busy winter period.

Of the £250million “Winter Planning” cash to be allocated across the country, Wearside and the North East will get nothing.

Now, the lack of financial help has been raised in the House of Commons by a Sunderland MP.

Bridget Phillipson, MP for Houghton and Sunderland South, told the Echo: “It’s disappointing, but not surprising that once again this Government has overlooked our region.

“A&E staff locally do their best in difficult circumstances, but that surely cannot justify the decision to ignore the very real pressures they face.”

Pressing the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, on the matter in the House of Commons, Ms Phillipson said: “Hospitals across the North East, as in many parts of the country, are facing considerable pressure on their A&E departments.

“Will the Secretary of State set out in more detail the rationale used to allocate the funding?”

Replying, Mr Hunt said: “The decision on which 53 areas to concentrate the resources was not made by me. It was made by NHS England, talking to Monitor and the NHS Trust Development Authority, on the basis of where, in their professional assessment, the highest-risk areas are.

“That is a sign that hospitals in the North East are performing extremely well.

“In the past few months I have visited Newcastle and I thought the hospital was absolutely fantastic. I did a stint on the front line there. There are some outstanding hospitals across the country and there is very good NHS provision in the North East. That is probably the reason.”

Earlier this year, bosses at Sunderland Royal Hospital said they were heading towards breaking point after the number of admissions to the Accident and Emergency department rocketed.

Nationally, there has been a three to five per cent year-on-year increase in attendances to departments – but staff at the Royal have seen a seven to eight per cent rise.

Union chiefs warned Wearside was heading towards “the bad old days” with patients queueing out of the door unless something is done.

Mr Hunt added: “I recognise that we need more radical change to reduce pressures on A&E departments over the longer term.

“I’m currently consulting on my plans to provide improved care for vulnerable older people, to keep them out of hospital through better, more proactive care in their community.

“This will include better joint-working between the health and care systems; personalised, proactive care overseen by a named, accountable GP; and the sharing of GP records across different organisations, including out-of-hours GP services and the ambulance service.”