Children's A&E to close overnight and new midwife-led birthing unit opens as controversial changes begin South Tyneside District Hospital

Controversial changes to children’s emergency services and maternity at South Tyneside District Hospital start today.
South Tyneside Hospital South Tyneside Hospital
South Tyneside Hospital

The hospital’s children’s emergency department at the hospital close tonight from 10pm and not reopen again until 8am – the new pattern of opening hours for the service.

Overnight emergency care for children up to the age of 16 will be provided from the Children’s Emergency Department at Sunderland Royal Hospital.

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It comes as part of controversial shake-ups to health services at South Tyneside and Sunderland hospitals.

Health chiefs have stressed children’s emergency care will still be available every day from 8am until 10pm at South Tyneside District Hospital and there are no changes to adult emergency care services which will continue to operate 24/7.

Bosses at the trust said the new model of children’s emergency care means that children from South Tyneside who need emergency hospital treatment during the night will now have equal access to specialist consultant-led emergency paediatric care 24/7.

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They said 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 senior paediatric cover 24/7.

Dr Shaz Wahid, Medical Director at South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We want to remind people that these important changes have now taken effect and our children’s emergency department at South Tyneside District Hospital will close tonight and every night at 10pm and reopen each morning at 8am.

“We know that it will take time for people to get used to the changes and our priority now is to ensure that there is as smooth a transition as possible. I would once again like to thank our fantastic team for working so hard to help us prepare for these changes and for this new way of working.”

Midwife-led birthing unit

In a separate move, changes to children’s emergency care takes place alongside the opening of a new midwifery-led birthing centre, which opened its doors this morning at 9am and offers more choice on where to give birth for local women across South Tyneside and Sunderland.

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Women who have a low-risk pregnancy, which is problem free will now have the option of:

·Giving birth at home

·Giving birth at the new midwifery-led birthing centre at South Tyneside District Hospital

·Giving birth under midwifery-led care at Sunderland Royal Hospital, which is within the consultant-led maternity unit

·Giving birth at another maternity unit of their choice in the region.

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Women who have a high risk pregnancy; for example if they are expecting twins, if their baby is in the breech position, or if they have experienced complications in this or a previous pregnancy, will be advised to give birth in the Trust’s consultant-led unit at Sunderland Royal Hospital.

This unit is rated amongst the best in the NHS according to the latest Care Quality Commission maternity survey and the new model will mean that there is increased Consultant presence in the delivery unit which has been shown to improve care.

The majority of all antenatal and postnatal care will continue to be provided locally, just as it is now.

All women’s healthcare (gynaecology) will be delivered as it is now other than for women requiring an overnight hospital stay, which is a very small number.