Bosses say the new ‘South Tyneside Urgent Care for Children’ will continue to treat the ‘vast majority’ of children who attend hospital with urgent, non-life threatening problems, and will continue operate from 8am to 10pm every day in the same location.
Children with any major, life-threatening problems will be cared for at Sunderland Royal Hospital, as they already are overnight.
But South Shields MP and hospital campaigners have criticised the changes and raised concerns over the risks posed by increased travel time for children with life-threatening conditions.
Mrs Lewell-Buck said: “This latest development is a continuation of the Tory-led cuts forcing downgrading and removal of critical hospital services from South Tyneside.
"To package it as anything other than a loss to my constituents and their children would be misleading.
“I have nothing but admiration and gratitude for the NHS staff who continue to dedicate themselves entirely to care of their patients at our hospital but this is not a 'new service’ – it is the removal of consultants from South Shields.
"I will continue to use my voice in Parliament to highlight this travesty and to support the unrelenting Save South Tyneside Hospital Campaigners, who have done everything in their power to highlight this constant drain of our health services to Sunderland.
"When it comes to children with life threating conditions, adding the risk and dangers of travel time to their treatment is not something I am prepared to endorse.”
The changes are the latest controversial move under the Path to Excellence shake-up following the merging of Sunderland and South Tyneside’s hospital trusts, which has already seen stroke treatment and overnight children’s A&E moved to Wearside, and a midwife-led maternity unit set up at the borough’s hospital.
Save South Tyneside Hospital Campaigners are holding a 'hoot for our children's A&E' outside the hospital each Friday lunch time, with a rally against the children’s A&E changes planned after July 19.
The trust said a public awareness and information campaign will begin from today to ensure people are aware of the new nurse-led urgent care service for children.
This will include information for schools and parents or carers of young children across South Tyneside.
Chiefs said they were working closely with all health and care partners, including local GPs and the North East Ambulance Services to ensure a smooth transition to the new nurse-led urgent care service.
To find out more about the changes visit www.stsft.nhs.uk.