Sunderland and South Tyneside hospitals have '˜secure futures' despite possible changes
Health Minister Jeremy Hunt says that South Tyneside and Sunderland Royal hospitals have 'totally secure futures' as a consultation continues into changes in services between the two sites.
Hospital bosses say they are proposing new ways some of its care can be improved in South Tyneside and Sunderland.
The Path to Excellence public consultation is focusing on areas of care delivered at the Harton Lane hospital and Sunderland Royal Hospital.
Services affected by the proposals include maternity services, special care baby units, gynaecology, and inpatient surgery.
But perhaps the most controversial move could see stroke services relocated to Sunderland.
South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck and Jarrow MP Stephen Hepburn have both come out in opposition to the plans, with Ms Lewell-Buck saying at a meeting earlier this summer that the Government is determined cut down the NHS “once and for all”.
She fears the possible changes could see a “downgrading” of South Tyneside District Hospital.
Speaking on a visit to the North East, Secretary of State for Health, Mr Hunt said: “I know there is a consultation going on right now and there are a lot of issues to be dealt with, but what is really important is that any plans are properly aired with the public and any changes are going to improve safety and care that we offer patients.
“We have two really good, important hospitals here and they both have a totally secure future, but there may be things that we can change.”
Mr Hunt also spoke about the inevitable pressure that will come on the NHS as winter as this year’s winter period approaches.
“The NHS has not done as much as it needs to and this year could be really tough.
“For example Australia have just had a very bad flu problem which has affected their country.
“I know there is some very important work going on in this area ahead of the winter, but I would say that we can never do too much.”
People can take part in the Path to Excellence survey at www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/NHSPathtoExcellence.
Feedback through those pages, questionnaires filled out on paper and views given at a series of events will be put together and help shape the final decisions.
The deadline is Sunday, October 15, and decisions are due to be made by the two clinical commissioning groups next year.