Firstly, I would like to extend my thanks to Coun Lee Hughes (Independent Bede ward) and Coun Sheila Stephenson (Labour Westoe ward) for attending the public meeting called to address the great concerns around the proposed ‘alliance’ between South Tyneside District Hospital and Sunderland Royal Hospital with the inevitable loss of a huge proportion of acute services on the South Shields site, including A& E, stroke and maternity services etc.
I have to express my disappointment and, quite frankly, my annoyance at the fact that of 54 elected councillors, only two attended the meeting on behalf of those they are supposed to represent.
In my opinion, this is an insult to voters, to South Tyneside residents, to staff, volunteers and patients of our wonderful hospital who deserve their full support during this uncertain time.
I appreciate that this is a holiday time and some of them may be away but I can’t believe that 52 of them were unavailable.
I was also advised by one of the campaign organisers that they were all invited in good time.
This meeting was a missed opportunity to hear the valuable opinions of those who use the hospital. In my view, this may be the most important fight to save an integral part of our community that we will ever face.
People shared personal views and experiences, some of which were extremely moving and it would have been in the councillors’ interests to listen to all of this first hand.
This so-called ‘alliance’ will have huge ramifications for every single resident but particularly the most vulnerable in our communities – our elderly relatives and neighbours, those with particular needs and those on the lowest incomes. Travel costs will soar, travel times will become prohibitive and dangerous, there will be potential job losses and our town will be starved of vital services, which we all need and deserve.
I am appalled that only two of our town’s representatives could show solidarity last night and it really does not reflect well on the Labour councillors as a whole and individually.
Those wishing to find out more and support the campaign, please visit savesouthtynesidehospital.org
Mrs Elaine Francis