One to Watch: Save South Tyneside Hospital Campaign:

Campaign members marching in the Durham Miners Gala.

Members of the Save South Tyneside Hospital Campaign have been taking part in the consultation meetings organised by the South Tyneside CCG. We have been saying that not only will the closure of these services impact on the prompt and safe treatment of those in South Tyneside, they will also impact heavily on the people of Sunderland as the remaining acute children’s A&E, consultant-led maternity, special care baby unit, and acute stroke will all be at Sunderland.

The Sunderland Royal has also been put in financial crisis by the government cuts and can hardly cope with the population it serves now from Durham to Seaham. Of course this is only the start of the process as all other acute services are being reviewed.

The Consultation Meeting on Wednesday 12th July at the Customs House

The meeting was broken up into tables with many CCG employees involved in giving their opinions, and it was not possible to hear what people had to say on other tables other than the Medical Director and the CCG Chief Operating Officer who hand-picked the questions to answer.

The Elephant in the room – dismissed by the speakers – was that this is driven by the largest ever cuts to our NHS hospitals, which has left both hospitals in a government created “deficit”. This year alone the government “cost improvement programme” will be £18 million for South Tyneside Foundation Trust and £13 million for City Hospitals Sunderland – some £35 million cut from both organisations! How will any health service or options be sustainable with these cuts?

In spite of this they kept telling us that the new options would mean safer and higher quality services than at present. Concerns that it was not safe or good for mothers to loose our special care baby unit (there were no options to keep it!) were brushed over. The suggestion that as South Tyneside and Sunderland are forming an alliance, they can satisfy the need for further clinical collaboration across both hospitals without moving children’s A&E, maternity and stroke services was also dismissed. A question as to why the few health and clinical leaders who came up with these options were not available to be questioned, has not yet been answered. A concern that most of the clinicians and all of the nursing teams that provide our health services in South Tyneside were not involved in these clinical reviews was also not answered. How can this be a safe process on deciding the future of our health services in South Tyneside?

Save South Tyneside Hospital Campaign supports the call that South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck gave for an independent investigation into the flawed review process in which clinicians have not been involved as claimed and that the process should be stopped until they have.

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