Securing future of South Tyneside hospital ‘will reduce spending on temporary staff’

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Massive spending on temporary staff at South Tyneside Hospital will only be curbed if there are assurances on its future, health bosses have been told.

Between them, South Tyneside Hospital and Sunderland Royal Hospital spend about £11million a year on locum staff in emergency and other care departments.

Councillors feel continued uncertainty due to controversial Path to Excellence plans is hampering efforts to recruit permanent workers.

“I think what we need to see is that South Tyneside Hospital is being promoted as a vibrant hospital with a secure future,” Coun Anne Hetherington told the Riverside Community Area Forum meeting.

“You cannot recruit staff to a hospital that appears to be under threat,” she added.

“We need to see what our hospital in South Tyneside is going to look like, and it needs to be in Phase 2 [of the Path to Excellence] – not an add-on at a later date.”

The Path to Excellence is a package of reforms to improve healthcare in Sunderland and South Tyneside.

The first phase, which has already started to be implemented, is set to see stroke, maternity and pediatric services centralised in Sunderland.

This has led to concerns for the future of South Tyneside District Hospital.

But health chiefs have previously insisted the second phase, covering emergency care and acute medicine; emergency surgery and planned care, could see some services move the other way, from Sunderland to South Tyneside.

Speaking at the meeting, Matt Brown, director of operations at South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “It will look a bit different, but it will continue for the future, and it’s about how we support that narrative.

“The other thing with recruitment is how we paint a vibrant picture, how we sell to training doctors that [South Tyneside is] a great place to live.”

James Harrison, Local Democracy Reporting Service