Rallying call in campaign over the future of South Tyneside Hospital

South Tyneside District Hospital vigil.
Front Unison Gemma Taylor
South Tyneside District Hospital vigil. Front Unison Gemma Taylor

People of South Tyneside are being urged to get behind a campaign over the future of the borough’s hospital.

South Tyneside Public Service Alliance has organised a series of meetings to highlight the need for A&E services to be retained in the area.

“Our aim is to brief people on what we are doing and motivate more people to become involved in the campaign.”

Gemma Taylor

They have also written to all of the borough’s councillors asking them to attend an event at Jarrow Town Hall so they can put across people’s concerns and to find out their views on the issue.

Meanwhile, campaigners are expected to be out today in King Street, South Shields, to drum up support ahead of them devising their next campaign strategy.

The Save 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.

There are fears the hospital in South Shields will be downgraded, with Sunderland Royal dealing with more acute services, when the newly created The South of Tyne Healthcare Group is in full swing.

But health chiefs have not revealed any strategic plans for the future of either hospital.

The issue is set to be one of a number discussed at a meeting of the South Tyneside Public Alliance on Thursday held in the Marine Room of South Shields Town Hall at 5pm.

This will be followed by a dedicated meeting about the future of the hospital at Brinkburn Community Centre in Harton Lane, South Shields, on Monday August 15.

Starting at 6pm, it has been organised by South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck and is being supported by the alliance.

Gemma Taylor, area organiser, said: “As part of the campaign we are supporting a meeting organised in conjunction with Emma Lewell-Buck. She has got concerns about the downgrading of the acute and emergency services.

“Our aim is to brief people on what we are doing and motivate more people to become involved in the campaign. There should be consultations on any changes that’s going to happen.”

Mrs Lewell-Buck who is expected to chair the meeting, said: “They say they’re not closing the A&E but everything they’re doing points towards that, with the clinical review and the alliance between the NHS Foundations in Sunderland and South Tyneside.”

Further meetings to discuss the hospital issue will take place on Thursday, August 18, at Jarrow Town Hall at 5pm where all councillors and the public are invited to attend; a meeting is also scheduled for Monday, August 22, at the Alberta Social Club in Railway Street, Jarrow where campaign strategy plans will be discussed in relation to the Save South Tyneside Hospital campaign.

Speaking at the time of the hospital alliance announcment, Michelle Arrowsmith, the Trust’s chief operating officer, said: “As staff are aware, we have recently entered into a partnership alliance with City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust. An initial element of this alliance is to undertake a full review of the clinical services in each organisation, this will include where possible gathering views of service users. As and when these reviews are complete, any service-specific proposals will be presented to the respective boards in each organisation in addition to the Clinical Services Review Group. This is to safeguard our acute hospital services.”