SICK children from across the region would come to Sunderland for treatment under new health proposals.
A public consultation has begun a consultation into how youngsters battling illness are treated.
The proposed changes could also mean children would receive more treatment at home, reducing the number of hospital overnight stays.
Under the plans put forward by NHS South of Tyne and Wear, Sunderland Royal Hospital will become the sole long-term in-patient admissions centre, as provision for such services in South Tyneside would be removed.
However, parents would have the option of using Newcastle’s Great North Children’s Hospital, which is within its Royal Victoria Infirmary.
The proposals come as health staff look to change the nature of care for the long-term sick.
They say that advances in medical treatments mean chronic illnesses, such as asthma, can be treated at home.
Sunderland consultant paediatrician, Dr Geoff Lawson, said the changes would stop poorly youngsters spending as much time on wards.
“I support the plan to enhance local services for children and young people.
“It will ensure that fewer children need to be admitted to hospital for long periods.”
Dr David Hambleton, director of commissioning development for NHS South of Tyne and Wear, believes the changes would be an improvement.
“Our plan will ensure that many children are able to receive expert paediatric care close to home,” he said.
“The relatively small number of children who need a hospital stay, will be treated in a dedicated inpatient unit staffed by doctors and nurses who are used to managing a wide range of conditions.”
The consultation period will end on March 31.
Those most likely to be affected by the proposals are invited to public consultation events to find out more.
The first will be held at Washington Leisure Centre, The Galleries, on January 17, at 2pm.
Another will be at the Training and Education Centre, at Sunderland Royal Hospital, on February 23, at 6pm.
Details about the consultation are available at www.sotw.nhs.uk/yoursay/consultations/.
People can fill in a questionnaire online or order a copy by calling 529 7374.
OPTION one would see walk-in services for children of all ages available, as well as short-stay assessment units in Sunderland open for limited hours.
Inpatient care would be available at Sunderland Royal, as well as the Great North Children’s Hospital at the RVI, in Newcastle.
Option two would also see walk-in services for all ages, but short-stay assessment units would be open in Sunderland, Gateshead and South Tyneside, 24 hours a day.
Health chiefs feel that option two will better suit patients and their families as it will mean children can stay at home, causing less disruption to family life.