SHOPPERS in Jarrow have helped wish the NHS a happy birthday.
Town MP Stephen Hepburn was on hand outside Morrison’s supermarket to mark the health service’s 66th birthday on Saturday.
Shoppers were also encouraged to sign a giant birthday card to mark the occasion.
Mr Hepburn also continued his campaign to block moves to close the Walk-in Centre at the town’s Palmer Hospital.
He encouraged townsfolk to sign a petition to save the facility alongside Joan Lewis, who fought for the hospital’s long-term future back in the 1980s.
Also on hand was NHS campaigners Joanna Adams and Rehana Azam, Beth Farhat, TUC regional secretary, Marion Langley, Unison South Tyneside health branch secretary and Matthew Giles from the People’s Assembly.
Mr Hepburn has called plans to close a popular medical facility “a cut too far”.
He said: “Basically, this is about cuts. The Clinical Commissioning Group can dress it up any way it wants, but this is a cut too far.
“I would urge people to support the petition being led by Unison and register their objections on the consultation document.”
NHS South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group is carrying out a 12-week consultation exercise about the shake-up plans.
It also proposes improving access to GPs and pharmacies for minor illnesses and ailments and the creation of a new urgent care one-stop shop at the Harton Lane hospital.
Commissioning group chief officer Dr David Hambleton said: “Our consultation document clearly states that the reasons for the planned closure are that the service has not taken any pressure off the local A&E department, as originally planned.
“We are considering focusing our urgent-care services on the site of the local hospital around the A&E department, which, in many cases, is the place that patients present with these problems.”
People are invited to attend public consultation meetings on planned changes to urgent care services at Bede’s World, in Church Bank, Jarrow, on Thursday between 6pm and 7.30pm, and the Millennium Phab Club, in Grange Road, Jarrow, on Monday, August 4, from 5.30pm to 7pm.