SOUTH Shields MP David Miliband took a healthy interest on a recent visit to the town's top hospital.
The Foreign Secretary was given a tour of ward five of South Tyneside District Hospital where he chatted with staff and patients.
It came after South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust was rated among the best in the country in the Healthcare Commission's annual health check, last month.
Mr Miliband said: "It is always a pleasure to visit South Tyneside District Hospital.
"The staff are leading the way in ensuring the patients receive the very best care.
"South Tyneside is lucky to have a first- class hospital delivering excellent service."
The MP makes regular visits to the hospital when he returns to his constituency.
He congratulated the trust after it was rated as 'excellent' for its use of resources and 'good' for its quality of service by the Healthcare Commission and its outstanding performance in infection control.
Lorraine Lambert, chief executive of South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust, said of Mr Miliband's visit: "This was one of those routine visits where he was able to meet and chat to a number of staff on an informal basis, and hear from them first hand about their work, life in the NHS in general and in South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust in particular.
"Mr Miliband congratulated us on our recent excellent scores in the Healthcare Commission's annual health check and on our outstanding performance in respect of the important issue of infection control where we have among the lowest rates of infection in the country.
"We greatly appreciate the interest Mr Miliband shows in local services, and I know our staff welcome the opportunity they have on a regular basis to chat to him about their work."