Draft plans for South Tyneside Hospital’s future are condemned by campaigners

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Plans for the future of hospital care in South Tyneside have been criticised by campaigners and a MP for not being transparent enough.

A new long-term plan for the future of the NSH in the region comes after fears for South Tyneside Hospital have been raised following an alliance with the City Hospitals Sunderland Foundation Trust - which created the South Tyneside and Sunderland Healthcare Group - which was announced earlier this year.

The Save South Tyneside Hospital Campaign (SSTHC) believes the hospital in Harton Lane, South Shields, could become a ‘cottage hospital’ if acute services are transferred to Wearside .

Trust bosses say any changes would be to ensure both communities continue to receive high quality and sustainable services.

Now, a draft version of the Northumberland, Tyne and Wear and North Durham Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) has been created to address how any changes and savings can be made in the future.

Critics say there’s not enough information in the plan and are worried about the number health services up for review.

But Ken Bremmer, chief executive for both Trusts, is keen to stress this is a draft plan aimed at gaining feedback.

He said: “The aim of the plan is quite clear and provides the opportunity for all NHS health and local authority social care services to combine planning in a way which has not been done before, leading to integration of care and much better use of the staff and resources we have across the region.

“For South Tyneside and Sunderland, our local response to the wider STP are the clinical service reviews we are currently carrying out and we have said we will publish potential scenarios from the reviews when they are completed and any potential proposals for changes to delivery of services will be subject to full and open public consultation.”

South Shields MP, Emma Lewell-Buck, said: “The lengthy document has very little detail and creates more questions than answers. One very small section of the plan reveals that almost every service provided by the hospital, including A&E, is under threat.

“We now know many more hospital services are already under review and will be completed as soon as next September.”

SSTHC members are also calling for people to block the plan.

Roger Nettleship, chairman, said: “At our meeting on Monday the campaign condemned the STP which, by 2020/21, will cut the annual health and social care budget for our area by nearly a billion pounds.

“These plans are being rolled out all over the country and we are calling on everyone to get involved to block these plans.”