New committee formed to probe alliance between South Tyneside and Sunderland hospitals

A vigil held by campaigners at South Tyneside District Hospital
A vigil held by campaigners at South Tyneside District Hospital

Councillors in South Tyneside are to join their Sunderland counterparts in scrutinising the area’s new health partnership.

Seven members of each council will form a joint committee to keep abreast of the alliance between South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS trusts.

The proposal was approved by members of South Tyneside Council’s overview and scrutiny committee amid their concerns over the alliance between South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust and City Hospital Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust.

Campaigners fear the hospital in South Shields will be downgraded, with Sunderland Royal dealing with more acute services, once the South of Tyne Healthcare Group is fully-formed.

However, health chiefs have not revealed any strategic plans. The move comes after a cut in Government funding.

Several councillors said further scrutiny of the health trusts and scrutiny should take place as they had felt “pushed into a corner” over the temporary movement of stroke services from South Tyneside to Sunderland.

Coun Tracey Dixon said a relative had been taken to Sunderland after suffering a suspected stroke, while Coun John McCabe said: “If you have a stroke now you will go through to Sunderland.”

But Robert Dix, chairman of the committee, said he didn’t believe the move had fully taken place while representatives of Unison told councillors that the change was delayed due in part to members not wanting to travel to Sunderland.