MORE sick children could be treated in Sunderland after health bosses gave new proposals the green light.
NHS chiefs opened a public consultation into the plans earlier this year.
The changes, which have now been given the go-ahead, will see more poorly youngsters from the North East treated in Sunderland, with a 24-hour assessment unit established at Sunderland Royal Hospital.
Other 24-hour units are also being created at Gateshead and South Tyneside hospitals.
Inpatient services will now be provided at Sunderland Royal or the Great North Children’s Hospital at the RVI, in Newcastle.
Those who access treatment at South Tyneside District Hospital, in South Shields, will now have to travel to either Sunderland or Newcastle.
Hundreds of people have, however, voiced their disapproval. Among them is Gillian Gibson, whose nine-year-old daughter Armani has a rare genetic condition known as Williams Syndrome, for which she needs treatment at South Tyneside District Hospital.
Now the family will have to make trips to Sunderland Royal Hospital or the RVI in Newcastle.
Mrs Gibson, from Marsden, campaigned to prevent the unit’s closure and organised a protest petition.
She said: “It is an absolutely shocking decision. I am disgusted.
“Armani is attached to a tube and is tube-fed and there is 24-hour open access at the district hospital. We know it is there if there’s a problem.”
A spokeswoman for NHS South of Tyne and Wear, working on behalf of Sunderland Teaching Primary Care Trust (PCT), said: “The board of NHS South of Tyne and Wear has given the go ahead to the proposed new model of care for acutely sick children and young people in Sunderland, South Tyneside and Gateshead.
“The decision was taken at a meeting of the board following consultation with the public.
“According to proposals, 24-hour assessment units will be established in local hospitals in Sunderland, Gateshead and South Tyneside and the work of the children’s community nursing team will be extended to offer support to sick children in their own home.
“Inpatient services, for those children who require a period in hospital, would be provided at centres in the Great North Children’s Hospital at the RVI in Newcastle and Sunderland Royal Hospital depending on where is most convenient for families.”
A spokesman for City Hospitals Sunderland said: “We welcome the decision and look forward to developing services with our partner organisations to maintain standards of excellence for acutely sick children and young people in the area.”