Gazette readers have described plans to move of a vital hospital service out of South Tyneside as “another nail in the coffin”.
Health bosses have announced that stroke care for both South Tyneside and Sunderland residents is to be temporarily centralised at Sunderland Royal Hospital.
They say the move is to strengthen the service and to ensure the best possible patient outcomes.
The stroke service at South Tyneside District Hospital has, they say, been under pressure for about 18 months due to key senior staff vacancies.
But campaigners believe a new alliance between the two hospital trusts will mean the move becomes permanent - and that it could lead to the loss of more hospital services at the hospital in Harton Lane, South Shields.
Readers were quick to have their say on the Gazette’s website.
Bobh1 said: “If front line patient care is reduced then doctor and nurse positions will not be required. I wonder if the equivalent staff administrators will also be shed. Probably not.”
Shieldslass added: “Another nail in the coffin for South Tyneside District Hospital. Lots of money spent on buildings and not enough money spent on getting enough staff. It will be Sunderland for everything within 10 years I bet.”
Safcmuppit said: “And so the demise of South Tyneside’s NHS services continues at an alarming pace under the guise of ‘improvement’. There is nothing this will achieve other than increased travel for both staff and patient alike at a time when locality and ease of access is paramount.”
Walkerchris posted: “We’re always told that these changes are to ‘improve’ care and ‘strengthen’ services but the reality for patients is very different.
“‘Improvements’ to local mental health services have a left a lot of patients without any support at all.”
Health bosses outline stroke changes
NHS bosses in South Tyneside and Sunderland have moved to reassure patients about the temporary changes to acute stroke services in the area.
Dr Shaz Wahid, medical director of South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust, said: “This is a temporary change based on detailed consideration of the clinical evidence and pressures on the service, including a national shortage of stroke physicians.”
Under the new temporary arrangement, patients with a suspected stroke will be taken directly to Sunderland Royal Hospital by ambulance.
Patients with a suspected stroke who self-present at A&E at South Tyneside District Hospital will be dealt with by the specialist stroke team via a telemedicine system and transferred to Sunderland Royal Hospital if required.
Patients who suffer a stroke after being admitted to South Tyneside Hospital will have their case discussed with a specialist stroke consultant and transferred to Sunderland Royal if required.
After discharge, hospital bosses say they expect the vast majority of follow-up services to stroke victims to be provided locally in South Tyneside.