Oponents of changes at South Tynesikde District Hospital have sent a letter to the High Court in a bid to launch a judicial review into the plans.
Specialist lawyers Irwin Mitchell, acting for Save South Tyneside Hospital Campaign Group (SSTHCG), have penned the letter in response to decisions by two Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) as they fight proposed changes to services at South Tyneside Hospital.
NHS Sunderland CCG and NHS South Tyneside CCG have laid out changes which include relocating maternity, women’s healthcare, paediatric and stroke services.
The letter outlines how recent changes regarding migrant visas could have an effect on staff recruitment at the Harton Lane hospital.
The law firm is now pursuing a judicial review - but CCG chiefs say the changes are unlikely to made a difference.
Yogi Amin, a partner at Irwin Mitchell, said: “We believe the recent announcement by the Home Secretary is a fundamental and relevant change in respect of planning to deliver services at South Tyneside Hospital.
“When announcing this change, the Home Secretary made clear that the rational for this change was and is to provide a solution to staff shortages within the NHS, like those in South Tyneside.”
Campaigners hope that the new policy will cause the CCGs to rethink.
Roger Nettleship, a spokesperson for SSTHCG, said: “We think that the solicitors are right to challenge the CCGs claim that they have an inability to recruit sufficient NHS staff. In the past the trust executives went out of their way to recruit doctors and nurses in Britain and abroad over decades, which has always been difficult for district general hospitals.”
Matt Brown, director of operations at South Tyneside CCG, said: “We have already made it clear to Irwin Mitchell that these changes are unlikely to make a significant difference to the challenges that we are facing. When recruiting staff our approach has always been both local and international so the visa cap has never been a significant issue for us locally.”