South Tyneside Hospital campaigners bid to overturn health service changes at Court of Appeal

Campaigners are preparing to take their lengthy battle against health service changes back to the law courts.

The Save South Tyneside Hospital group takes its battle against health service changes to the Court of Appeal on November 19.
The Save South Tyneside Hospital group takes its battle against health service changes to the Court of Appeal on November 19.

Lawyers are set to argue that the decision-making process over the transfer of these services to Sunderland Royal Hospital from 2018 was essentially pre-determined before a public consultation process the previous year.

South Tyneside and Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) will contest the appeal and insist the changes were about “doing what is right for our patients”.

Helen Smith, specialist public law expert at Irwin Mitchell’s Newcastle office, who is acting for Save South Tyneside Hospital, said: “Our clients have been involved in a long battle regarding these proposals and we are determined to support them every step of the way.

“It is very welcome that the Court of Appeal is hearing the case and it remains vital that all aspects of the proposals are properly examined.”

Campaigners also believe there was not enough information on the various options or the implications of the decision.

Spokesperson Roger Nettleship added: “The Court of Appeal hearing is another opportunity for us to raise our concerns and it will hopefully lead to a rethink of these extremely worrying plans.

“It has been a real battle to get our voices heard on this matter and we know so many people in the community are devastated about the impact that the closures to overnight children’s A&E, maternity and the Special Care Baby Unit are having.

“To see services for women and children particularly affected is very worrying. We will continue to fight with everything we have.”

Health bosses have decided not to comment ahead of the Tuesday, November 19, hearing.

Matt Brown, director at South Tyneside CCG, speaking on behalf of both South Tyneside and Sunderland CCGs, said earlier this year: “We will of course defend the appeal and, while this legal process carries on, our focus remains on providing excellent care for patients by our hardworking fantastic clinical teams.”