A South Shields MP has laid down the law with health bosses over a new NHS plan for South Shields.
Emma Lewell-Buck has spoken out over South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust’s alliance with City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust and says she will oppose any attempts to downgrade services in her constituecy.
I have made it abundantly clear that I will strongly oppose any attempt to downgrade services of close A&E.Emma Lewell-Buck
The partnership, once in full swing, will be known as the South Tyneside and Sunderland Healthcare Group.
However, there are fears that the new set-up will mean the borough is left with a ‘cottage’ hospital, and more acute services, such as A&E, will be housed in Wearside.
Mrs Lewell-Buck says she has recently held discussions with the trust’s chief executive Steve Williamson to express her views.
Trust bosses say any decisions will be “in the best interests of local people” and that any significant changes would have to be subject to a consultation.
Mrs Lewell-Buck said: “After discussions with the chief executive of the hospital, I understand that clinicians across both South Tyneside and Sunderland Hospital are looking at individual services and ways to work closer together and that proposals for consultation are to follow at a later date.
“In these discussions I have made it abundantly clear that I will strongly oppose any attempts to downgrade services or close accident and emergency.”
A campaign group called Save South Tyneside Hospital has already been launched in a bid to ensure the future of the Harton Lane site.
Spearheaded by the South Tyneside Public Service Alliance and the South Tyneside Green Party, so far almost 1,000 people have signed a petition.
The group has so far organised a protest walk between the alliance’s two sites, held a vigil and organised a number of information stall events – with more planned for the coming weeks.
Mr Williamson said: “At a time when the NHS is facing the most challenging pressures in its history, we firmly believe that our alliance with City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust is the most effective way to secure the future sustainability of quality health services for the people of both South Tyneside and Sunderland.
“The South Tyneside and Sunderland Healthcare Group is looking at how our two trusts can work more closely together in the delivery of our clinical services and it is important that these discussions are clinically-led.”
He added: “We can give assurances that any proposed significant service changes will be subject to full public consultation and that decisions will be made in the best interests of the people we serve.”