A major consultation on the future of key hospital services in Sunderland is coming, it was announced today.
A 14-and-a-half week public consultation is to be launched next month, when health chiefs say they will reveal proposals for how they plan to deliver care at Sunderland Royal Hospital and South Tyneside District Hospital.
That will focus mainly on:
* Stroke services, specifically acute care and hospital-based rehabilitation services
* Maternity services (obstetrics), which covers hospital-based birthing facilities and special care baby units
* Women’s services (gynaecology), covering inpatient surgery where you would need an overnight hospital stay
* Children and young people’s (paediatrics, urgent and emergency) services
The consultation begins on Wednesday, July 5 - which is when NHS bosses say they will publish their proposals for the first time.
The reviews are part of the Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) by the Government to find £900million in annual cuts to the social and health care budgets of hospitals in Northumbria, Tyne & Wear and North Durham, by 2021.
The public consultation will run until Sunday, October 15.
Final decisions will be made by Sunderland Commissioning Group (CCG) and its South Tyneside counterpart later in the year.
To mark its start, a launch event will be held from 6-8pm on July 5 at Hope Street Xchange, in Hind Street, Sunderland.
Other public consultation events include:
* Tuesday, July 11, a focused event on maternity, women’s and children’s services from 6-8pm at Hope Street Xchange.
* Tuesday, July 18, a focused event on stroke services from 6-8pm at Sunderland Bangladeshi International Centre, in Tatham Street.
* Wednesday, July 26, a consultation discussion event from 1-3pm at Sunderland Software Centre, in Tavistock Place.
* Saturday, September 16, a consultation discussion event from 10am-12pm at The Hetton Centre, Welfare Road, Hetton-le-Hole, Houghton le Spring, DH5 9NE
Those interested in attending the events are asked to visit www.pathtoexcellence.org.uk for registration details. People will also be able to take part in paper and online surveys.
Ian Martin, Medical Director for City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, said he understood people might be concerned about possible changes to how some local services are provided, but urged people to find out more before making an opinion.
He added: "We really hope that local people will take the opportunity to listen to the issues and think about the challenges we face locally and tell us how these potential changes may affect them or if they have ideas on how the proposals could be improved."
Dr Ian Pattison, a local GP and Chair of NHS Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group, said: "This is a very important opportunity for local people to hear directly from their own local doctors, nurses and therapists who are working in these services and understand the problems we face due to the way these particular services are currently arranged and how we think we can improve them.
"People care passionately about our NHS and we all have that in common. I hope that we can discuss these often complex issues together so we can make improvements that will have a real and lasting positive impact on people’s health outcomes."