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Council calls for ‘immediate’ return of maternity services to South Tyneside

An extraordinary meeting of South Tyneside Council to discuss the future of the maternity unit at South Tyneside District Hospital.
An extraordinary meeting of South Tyneside Council to discuss the future of the maternity unit at South Tyneside District Hospital.

Council bosses in South Tyneside have voted to commission a review into the decision making about health services in the borough.

An urgent meeting of council bosses made it clear they want to see action over the crisis in maternity services at South Tyneside District Hospital.

Coun Tracey Dixon.

Coun Tracey Dixon.

The decision came at an extraordinary meeting of South Tyneside Council tonight following the temporary suspension of deliveries at the hospital’s maternity unit.

The action was taken just days after the hospital’s special care baby unit was closed down because of what hospital bosses described as a shortage of specialised staff.

South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust said the safety of mothers and babies must come first.

At the council meeting tonight, Coun Tracey Dixon put forward a resolution, which was unanimously backed by members, to commission a review into the decision making about health services.

South Tyneside District Hospital.

South Tyneside District Hospital.

The council want the probe to look at options which would give the authority - as representatives of the people - a more direct role in future decision making.

She said: “We demand that health executives, both locally and regionally, commit to reopening maternity services at the district hospital and that they work in cooperation with staff and trade unions to achieve this.”

Coun John McCabe, who seconded the motion, said: “We are in a situation where people are coming to us on a daily, even hourly, basis asking us what is happening.

“I have never, ever, felt, seen or heard the passion in the community that I represent.

“Let’s recognise the root cause of this, it is the Conservative government, and why, because they want to privatise the NHS.

“This community does not want that. What we want is the maternity unit opened immediately.

“We have had a decision thrust upon us. It is not on. and it is not acceptable at all.”

He said the council needs to represent the people and the only way they can truely represent them when it comes to health services is to have a say in what happens.

Coun Doreen Purvis, said it is clear the problem has come from the Tory government wanting to save money.

She said: “It isn’t just happening in South Tyneside, it is happening up and down the country.”

Coun Purvis said central government is behind the changes, but the authority can’t just give and say there is nothing to be done.

She said: “We should be looking to get more control over our destiny. Looking to what other councils have done and do something practical.”

Council members agreed to instruct the authority’s chief executive to commission a governance review of the discharge of health functions across South Tyneside.