South Shields MP and Boris Johnson clash over South Tyneside Hospital - as 44,000-strong petition brought to Parliament
South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck can be seen rolling her eyes at Boris Johnson as they clash during Prime Minister’s Questions over South Tyneside hospital.
Campaigners have been battling health bosses for years over changes under the ‘Path to Excellence’ following the merger of South Tyneside and Sunderland’s NHS hospital trusts.
While chiefs at the South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust say the overhaul will “secure the future of local NHS services and to identify new and innovative ways of delivering high quality, joined-up, sustainable care that will benefit the population both now and in the future”, many are angry at what they say amounts to a downgrading of hospital services in South Shields.
Today (June 9), a deputation of 17 people are going to Parliament to hand in a petition with 44,000 signatures – and will be greeted by Emma Lewell-Buck and Jarrow MP Kate Osborne.
During Prime Minister’s Questions, Ms Lewell-Buck clashed with Boris Johnson as she raised campaigners’, as well as her own, concerns about hospital services.
She told the House of Commons: "Our greatest national asset, best in this country, record increasing in funding, saved my life no question, my number one priority – are all things the Prime Minister said about our NHS.
"Yet award-winning South Tyneside Hospital has lost vital service and been told by his Government to make further cuts to remaining services.
"Later today, I’m presenting a petition on behalf of over 40,000 of my constituents against these cuts.
"Like me, they want him to help save our hospital and show for once that he is able to match his rhetoric with some action. Will he?”
In response, Mr Johnson said: “All of the changes that she mentioned will be consulted in the usual way. I note that Dr Shahid Wahid, the executive medical director of the trust, was recently quoted in the Shields Gazette saying this is about improving surgical services, this is not about downgrading anything.
"And she mentions cuts, Mr Speaker, this Government, this year alone, has given another £92 billion to support our NHS on top of the huge commitments we already made.”
Ms Lewell-Buck is filmed rolling her eyes at the Prime Minister’s comments and can be seen trying to respond – although the audio is not clear.
Ahead of the petition being presented to parliament, chairman of Save South Tyneside Hospital Campaign Roger Nettleship said “The petition was launched in 2016 over the concerns to downgrade our hospital through what was claimed as a ‘path to excellence’ which has already led to the loss of full maternity services, 24 hour Children's A&E and hospital stroke rehabilitation services.”
Adding: “Health care is a right in a modern society and it is the people of South Tyneside who should decide on the services that our hospital provides.”
Mr Johnson referred to comments previously made by Dr Wahid, executive medical director at South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, who said: "This is about improving surgical services, making sure more people have access to timely operations and reducing the significant backlog of patients now waiting for treatment. It is not about downgrading anything, it is about making services better.
“The changes already made to improve stroke, maternity and paediatric services have had fantastic feedback from patients.”