More than 150 campaigners have called on bosses of a new health alliance not to move services out of South Tyneside.
Following the news that the borough’s health trust has formed a partnership with its Sunderland counterpart, the Save South Tyneside Hospital Campaign has been created over fears a number of services could be moved to Wearside.
Services at South Tyneside District Hospital are currently being reviewed.
There are fears the hospital in South Shields will be downgraded, with Sunderland Royal dealing with more acute services, when the newly created The South of Tyne Healthcare Group is in full swing.
But health chiefs at both South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust and City Hospitals Sunderland have not yet revealed any strategic plans for the future of either hospital.
At a first meeting of the campaign group at Brinkburn Community Centre, South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck told those attending: “We all know that the Government is decimating our NHS.
“They have forced a lot of areas to come up with plans about how they can reconfigure these hospitals.
“Our hospital in South Tyneside is facing its own challenges.
“The chief executive of City Hospitals Sunderland will now also be the chief executive of South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust in September. Still they are saying that this is not a merger.”
Ms Buck added: “There is a blatant lack of transparency.
“The people I have spoken to in the area are not going to put up with this.”
Unison rep Gemma Taylor, who also spoke as well as campaign group chairman Roger Nettleship, said: “We all know that if a hospital does not have acute services, it will make the hospital not viable.
“This new group was formed without any public consultation.”
Other issues over the possibility of services moving were raised over whether there would be adequate parking at Sunderland Royal for an extra influx of patients from South Tyneside.
South Tyneside District Hospital consultation surgeon Kamil Wynne told the meeting that most clinical staff at the hospital oppose any possible moving of services to the Royal.
“The majority of us do not think that this has been thought out properly,” he said.
Further meetings to discuss the hospital issue will take place on Thursday, at Jarrow Town Hall at 5pm where all councillors and the public are invited to attend; a meeting is also scheduled for Monday, August 22, at the Alberta Social Club in Railway Street, Jarrow, where strategy plans will be discussed.