From Monday, August 5, the children’s emergency department at South Tyneside District Hospital will close every night at 10pm and reopen every morning at 8am.
Overnight emergency care for youngsters up to the age of 16 will be provided at the Children’s Emergency Department at Sunderland Royal Hospital.
It means children’s emergency care will still be available every day from 8am until 10pm at South Tyneside District Hospital. There are no changes to adult emergency care services, which will continue to operate 24/7.
The changes to children’s emergency care follow a major public consultation process carried out by South Tyneside and Sunderland
Clinical Commissioning Groups in 2017.
Health chiefs say the new system will mean that South Tyneside children who need emergency hospital treatment during the night will now have equal access to specialist consultant-led paediatric care 24/7.
Bosses at South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust say that ongoing and severe staffing pressures on the service at South Tyneside District Hospital over many years have meant it has not always been possible to consistently provide specialist paediatric consultant cover 24/7.
A public awareness and information campaign on the change has now begun to ensure schools, parents and guardians in South Tyneside are aware of the new system.
The changes to children’s emergency care will take place alongside the opening of a new midwifery-led birthing centre at South Tyneside District Hospital on August 5.
Dr Geoff Lawson, clinical director and consultant paediatrician at South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, said: “These important changes to emergency paediatric care mean South Tyneside children will be seen much more promptly by the right healthcare professional 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“This includes ready access to specialist paediatric consultants 24/7 which is something we have struggled to provide consistently in South Tyneside over many years.
“Our prime concern is always the safety of children in our care and by pooling the significant experience and expertise of our clinical and nursing teams, this will greatly improve the resilience of our service for the long term.
“The changes to overnight emergency paediatric care will affect a very small number of children from South Tyneside but mean they will now have equal, round the clock access to specialist paediatric consultants if they are seriously ill or injured in the middle of the night.
“I would like to thank our staff in South Tyneside who have been fantastic in helping us prepare for these changes and will continue to play a vital role providing emergency care for children every day in South Tyneside.”