Vigil to take place over hospital fears

Dave Herbert, Shirley Ford, Roger Nettleship, Myrtle Spence and Gemma Taylor.

Dave Herbert, Shirley Ford, Roger Nettleship, Myrtle Spence and Gemma Taylor.

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A vigil is to be held in a bid to ensure South Tyneside’s hospital services remain unchanged.

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.

We should all come together to save our hospital.

Roger Nettleship

There are fears South Tyneside District Hospital, in Harton Lane, 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.

The group is particularly worried about the future of the site’s stroke, maternity and A&E services.

However trust bosses say any decisions will be “in the best interests of local people” and that any significant changes would have to be subject to a consultation,

The campaign group, which is being spearheaded by the South Tyneside Public Service Alliance (PSA), and the Green Party, will have a stall in Bents Park, South Shields, on Saturday, following the South Tyneside Festival parade.

It will also stage a vigil outside the Harton Lane site on Tuesday, from 12pm to 2pm – this coincides with the 68th anniversary since the creation of the NHS.

And an online petition, which already has 500 signatures, has been launched.

Gemma Taylor, of the PSA, said: “Our petition is now up and running and we have other events planned to publicise our campaign.

“On Saturday we will be handing out postcards, which we will be encouraging people to send to their local MPs.

“While on Tuesday we are holding a vigil outside of this hospital, this is also ties in nicely with the NHS’s anniversary.”

Roger Nettleship, the campaign’s chairman, said: “The Save South Tyneside Hospital campaign has launched a petition against the downgrading of our district hospital. Immediately, acute stroke services, trauma, maternity and other services are coming under review. Whether people voted to remain, or leave the EU we should all come together to save our hospital.”

South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust Chief Executive Steve Williamson added: “The NHS is facing the greatest demand and financial pressures in its history and we believe that our alliance with City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, which involves working more closely together in the delivery of our clinical services, is the most effective way to secure the future sustainability of quality health services for South Tyneside and Sunderland.”

To sign the petition, visit www.change.org/p/no-downgrading-of-south-tyneside-hospital.