Tough fight ahead for hospital campaigners says Jarrow MP

Consultation is under way over three areas of services run by South Tyneside District Hospital, seen here, and Sunderland Royal Hospital.
Consultation is under way over three areas of services run by South Tyneside District Hospital, seen here, and Sunderland Royal Hospital.
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Jarrow MP Stephen Hepburn says campaigners are in for a tough battle if they are to have any chance of saving South Tyneside District Hospital.

Mr Hepburn has spoken out as a consultation was launched this week into the future of acute services at the hospital, in Harton Lane, South Shields - with plans to move some to Sunderland Royal Hospital.

Stephen Hepburn

Stephen Hepburn

He fears the public meetings will turn out to be “yet another bogus consultation process” - citing the previous campaign to save Jarrow Walk-In Centre - which was later closed.

NHS bosses say the consultation document aims to improve service delivery and has been compiled with the co-operation of staff and specialists.

The launch event - at Jarrow Community Centre - was the first of 11 lined up as part of the consultation on the Path to Excellence, which has been drafted up to list a series of options covering the stroke, children’s A&E and maternity and women’s care offered from South Tyneside District Hospital, as well as Sunderland Royal.

MP Stephen Hepburn said: “My fear is that this will turn out to be yet another bogus consultation process.

“Certainly if it is anything like the one that ended up recommending the closure of the much loved and much missed Jarrow Walk-In Centre, then we are in for a tough fight to save what we value.

“I’m 100% behind the Save South Tyneside Hospital Campaign and I will continue to do all I can to fight the forces threatening an act of vandalism on our local NHS.

“I urge everyone on South Tyneside to get behind the campaign.”

Shirley Ford, leader of the Green Party in South Tyneside said: “We’re deeply concerned that if this proposed alliance goes ahead, it will make it far more difficult for the people of South Tyneside to access vital health services.

“In light of this, it is absolutely essential that the councillors elected by the people of South Shields stand up and represent the concerns of their constituents.”

A South Tyneside Council spokesperson said: “The consultation events launched this week by the NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups aims to gauge the views of the public on the proposals. It is running until 15th October and we would encourage people to take the chance to find out the facts and have their say.

“The proposals are subject to rigorous scrutiny from a joint committee made up of elected members from both South Tyneside and Sunderland councils.

“Against a challenging financial background and workforce difficulties, Trusts across the country are being asked to pool their resources to ensure their services are sustainable in the long term. However, the most important objective is to deliver the right outcomes for local people and the scrutiny process will help us to ensure this happens.”

Details of the proposals can be viewed at www.pathtoexcellence.org.uk. Deadline for feedback is October 15.