THE deadline for people to have their say on a proposed shake-up of children’s services at South Tyneside District Hospital has been extended.
Patients, health professionals and the public have until the end of the month to give their views on the future of services for acutely sick and injured children in the borough.
If the proposals go through, youngsters who need long-term treatment – more than 24 hours – will have to travel to Sunderland Royal or the Great North Children’s Hospital in Newcastle, for care.
A 24-hour assessment unit would be established at the hospital in Harton Lane, while the work of the children’s community nursing team will be extended to offer support to youngsters in their homes.
A three-month consultation, held by NHS South of Tyne and Wear, was launched in December to give people the opportunity to give their thoughts on the proposals.
Now, the period for the public to respond with their views has been extended.
Dr David Hambleton, director of commissioning development for NHS South of Tyne and Wear, said: “We are holding a public consultation about our proposed new model of care for acutely sick children and young people, and we would urge people to give us their views. We have extended the deadline for responses to April 30.
“We are committed to improving services for children and young people. The relatively small number of children who need a hospital stay will be treated in dedicated inpatient units staffed by doctors and nurses who are used to managing a wide range of conditions.”
Campaigners against the proposals have already handed over hundreds of protest postcards to South Shields MP David Miliband.
Health bosses insist the changing pattern of childhood illness means that provision no longer meets the needs of children or their families, saying children suffer from more chronic and complex long-term illness now, such as asthma and diabetes, which require more community-based treatment, closer to home, and fewer hospital admissions and overnight stays.
To have your say, complete the questionnaire on the website www.sotw.nhs.uk/yoursay/consultations/ or call 0191 529 7374 for a copy.