Campaigners have reacted in anger over decisions made on the future of three key services at South Tyneside District Hospital.
A crunch meeting took place today at which representatives from both NHS South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and NHS Sunderland CCG in public to make a decision on how they believe services should operate from the two sites.
They voted to combine all hospital-based stroke services to Sunderland, and to provide key paediatric and maternity services at the Wearside. You can view the detailed decisions here.
Speaking on behalf of Save South Tyneside Hospital Campaign, chairman Roger Nettleship said: “We feel the consultation has been a complete sham.
Several months ago the CCG started a consultation on three pre determined options throughout there was never any sense they were listening to the clinical staff or the people of South Tyneside.
“Ken Bremner said in the meeting that he told the CCG, two years ago that no change was not an option, so in that consultation there was never any options that gave the people of South Tyneside anything other than worse access to hospital services.”
Mr Nettleship said the group’s solicitors have written to the CCG and that the campaign would continue.
He added: “We are still here and we will fight on. People have a right to these services.
Former Sunderland nurse Kathy Haq said: “I don’t think they have considered the patients of Sunderland or South Tyneside.
“Sunderland can’t cope with the patients from Sunderland, without the extra patients they will now get from South Tyneside.
“And certainly in maternity. I know a family member who had her baby at Sunderland at a time when mothers were coming over from South Tyneside and she said the midwives and maternity staff were running all over the place.
“You have Ken Bremner saying everything is fine, everything is not fine and it’s the workforce on the ground floor who will feel the extra pressure.”
Ken Bremner, Chief Executive at South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust and City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust said: “We welcome the very important decisions taken today by both CCGs which will not only help safeguard local NHS services for many future generations, but also improve the quality of care and clinical outcomes for people living in South Tyneside and Sunderland today.
“Two years ago we began discussions with staff and the public about the challenges facing local hospital services and since then we have seen, first-hand, the very real vulnerabilities within our workforce which resulted in temporary changes in stroke services and within our special care baby unit in South Tyneside. Today’s decisions are therefore very welcome news as we can now start looking to the future with certainty and begin building resilient models of care that will withstand the pressures facing us, as well as offering the very highest standards of care for our patients.
“Once again I want to be absolutely clear, as I have been throughout this process, that our hospitals in both South Tyneside and Sunderland will both continue to play vital roles in the future and I remain more confident than ever that by working together we can secure better care and outcomes from services that are safer and more sustainable for our patients, staff and local communities.”