Sunderland council says no decision yet on funding for second phase of health changes

City leaders say no decision has been made on a request to help bankroll a controversial overhaul of NHS services in Sunderland and South Tyneside.

Friday, 20th September 2019, 11:45 am
City leaders say no decision has been made on a request to help bankroll a controversial overhaul of NHS services in Sunderland and South Tyneside.

NHS chiefs approached council bosses earlier this year about the possibility of using their access to cheap government credit to help fund the second phase of the Path to Excellence scheme.

At the time, health bosses said they had had ‘positive early discussions’ about the prospect of securing the cash if NHS England is unable to stump it up.

“The position remains unchanged,” said Coun Geoff Walker, cabinet member for Health and Social Care, “no decision has been taken over whether the council will support the negotiations.

“The trust did approach the council and discussions have taken place at a very high level to see if there was any potential [for it to go ahead] and we have since found out the trust would need consent from the Department of Health.

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“I can assure all that if the council does decide to move forward, any agreement between the trust and the council will be on a strictly commercial basis.”

Coun Walker was speaking a meeting of Sunderland City Council in response to a pre-submitted question from Laura Murrell, who has been a leading campaigner on NHS services in Sunderland through the Keep Our NHS Public (KONP) group.

If the council agrees to provide a loan to care chiefs, it would go towards costs of the second phase of the Path to Excellence scheme, which will reform areas such as emergency care, surgery and diagnostics.