Campaigners say they want questions answered after health chiefs revealed their vision for the future of South Tyneside District Hospital.
Phase Two of the Path to Excellence programme - an ‘Updated Draft Case for Change’ - was published yesterday, revealing what could be in store for both the borough’s hospital and Sunderland Royal.
Health bosses say it takes on board the views of more than 9,000 staff, patients and key stakeholders, and the draft represents the early thinking and emerging ideas on ways to potentially solve the challenges facing the NHS services in the area.
One of the potential developments is to establish a centre of surgical excellence at the hospital in Harton Lane site, South Shields, along with an integrated diagnostic and imaging centre.
Roger Nettleship, chairman of the Save South Tyneside Hospital Campaign (SSTHC), said: “We will be discussing this updated document at our next meeting.
“What we note from reading it is a narrative that clearly favours the downgrading of our urgent and emergency service at South Tyneside District Hospital.
“We will have many more questions that don’t seem to be answered about the future of our acute trauma and medical services.”
The Trust document says it aims to ensure continued 24/7 access to urgent or emergency care at both South Tyneside and Sunderland hospitals.
Experts say that South Tyneside could mainly be carrying out scheduled operations, like hip replacements, for patents from both areas.
Sunderland Royal would treat patients who required emergency surgery.
However, Wearside patients would still be able to request to have scheduled surgery at Sunderland Royal - but there’s a chance operations would take longer and may have to be rescheduled due to emergencies.
Dr Shaz Wahid, medical director at South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust and clinical lead for the Path to Excellence programme, said: “Our current thinking for surgical services is fully aligned to the recently published NHS Long Term Plan which echoes the view that separating emergency surgery from planned operations has multiple benefits.
“Our aim is to improve access to specialist surgical care with the right expertise readily available at the right time, regardless of whether patients need emergency surgery or a planned operation.”
He added: “By separating planned operations from emergency surgery, our teams feel this would also help improve both patient and staff satisfaction by reducing the risk of planned operations being cancelled at short notice by emergency cases which must take clinical priority.”
The next meeting of the SSTHC will take place on Monday, March 18 at Ocean Road Community Centre, South Shields, from 6.30pm.
The roadshow dates
Throughout March, the NHS is seeking views on what is important to local people, and why, when accessing hospital care.
Drop-in roadshows will take place over the coming weeks as follows:
lToday, 10am-2pm Cleadon Park Primary Care Centre;
lMonday, March 11, 9am- 5pm South Shields Market Place;
lWednesday, March 13, 10am- 2pm Hebburn Central ;
lThursday, March 14, 10am -2pm Flagg Court Primary Care;
lWednesday, March 20, 10am-2pm, Asda, Boldon Colliery;
lThursday, March 21, 10am- 4pm Sunderland Asda;
lMonday, March 25, 9am-5pm South Shields High Street
lTuesday, March 26 10am- 2pm Alexander’s restaurant, South Tyneside District Hospital;
lTuesday,March 26, 9am – 5pm Jarrow Town Centre;
lWednesday, March 27, 9am- 5pm Hebburn Town Centre;
Wednesday, March 27, 10am – 2pm South Shields Asda;
lThursday, March 28, 10am- 2pm Main Outpatients, Palmer Community Hospital;
People will be able to find out more about why hospital services must change, hear about the ‘Updated Draft Case for Change’ and complete a short survey.
The NHS is encouraging as many people as possible to get involved and share their views.
An online survey and new video animation are also available online at www.pathtoexcellence.org.uk for those who cannot attend a drop-in roadshow.