Council calls for re-think over maternity services

Leader of the council Coun. Iain Malcolm with Clare Williams, Regional secretary Unison at South Shields Town Hall.
Leader of the council Coun. Iain Malcolm with Clare Williams, Regional secretary Unison at South Shields Town Hall.

Councillors in South Tyneside have called on hospital bosses to re-think plans to revise the way maternity services are delivered as they look to find new ways to deliver care to patients.

There are only days left for people to air their views on proposals put forward on the future of hospital services for South Tyneside and Sunderland.

We have remained resolute that vital services at the hospital should be protected and that is why we are asking the CCG to reconsider the options for maternity services in particular.

Coun Moira Smith

Initial proposals, drawn up by South Tyneside and Sunderland Healthcare Group, focus on the future of stroke, obstetrics and gynaecology (including maternity) and emergency care for children.

Over the summer, the plans were opened up to public consultation with councillors from both councils scrutinising the proposals.

At a meeting of the council’s cabinet councillors said that, while they understood the financial background and workforce difficulties being faced by Trusts across the country, the most important objective was to “deliver the right outcomes for local people.”

Coun Moira Smith, who presented the report, said: “We have remained resolute that vital services at the hospital should be protected and that is why we are asking the CCG to reconsider the options for maternity services in particular.

“We appreciate there is a balance that needs to be struck and that in these challenging times difficult decisions need to be made. Our response reflects a realistic expectation of what can be achieved and is in line with the response by UNISON who represents public sector workforces.

“The proposals represent service changes which will have a significant effect on services to South Tyneside residents. We seek to encourage and reflect those views to ensure that residents are provided with the best possible service.”

The Council’s consultation response states:

*Paediatric – Emergency children’s services to continue to be provided in South Tyneside during the day. The Council wants assurance that there will be adequate overnight cover for those who present at South Tyneside District Hospital through the Nurse Practitioners and senior suitably skilled A&E Consultants.

*Stroke – the acute service centralised at Sunderland to mitigate against senior clinical staffing shortages. However, community rehabilitation must be in place in local areas, particularly South Tyneside so that patients can receive longer term intervention and support in their homes.

*Maternity / SCBU – South Tyneside must have access to a Consultant led Maternity Service. Evidence and views presented to date show that without this, patient choice would be restricted and, in the absence of senior medical support and input, the longer-term future may be in question.

The Council’s response to the ‘Path to Excellence’ consultation, together with those of partners, employees, campaigners and residents will be presented to the two CCGs later this year, with a view to them making a decision in respect of these services in 2018.