The leader of the Labour party has thrown his weight behind a campaign to save acute services within South Tyneside District Hospital.
Jeremy Corbyn didn’t hesitate to sign his name to back the call when presented with the petition by Coun John McCabe on his visit to Jarrow at the weekend.
The Save the South Tyneside Hospital campaign was created after a new alliance was announced between South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust and City Hospital Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust.
To date, more than 7,000 people have backed the petition, available at www.change.org/p/no-downgrading-of-south-tyneside-hospital
They fear the hospital in South Shields will be downgraded, with Sunderland Royal dealing with more acute services, when the newly created South of Tyne Healthcare Group is in full swing.
But health chiefs at both South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust and City Hospitals Sunderland have not yet revealed any strategic plans for the future of either hospital.
It comes after Jarrow lost its walk-in centre despite a public outcry and protests.
Mr Corbyn said: “Health services are better delivered as local as they possibly can.
“The health service I cherish very much but it has to be effective at a local level.
“We have to fight very hard to defend it which is why I have signed the petition about the local hospital.”
Mr Corbyn was at a dinner event organised by Jarrow’s Constituency Labour Party ahead of his appearance at the 80th anniversary of the Jarrow Crusade. He was one of a number of people who signed their name on the petition.
Roger Nettleship, Chairman of the Save South Tyneside Hospital Campaign said: “The Save South Tyneside Hospital Campaign was thrilled that Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Labour Party and opposition in Parliament, signed our petition to oppose the downgrading of our hospital when he attended the dinner on Friday ahead of the historic 80th anniversary of the Jarrow March.
“Knowing his view that health care is a right and his opposition to the massive cuts to hospital budgets and privatisation of our NHS it was of no a surprise he offered his support of which we are thankful.”