Council to stage special meeting over South Tyneside baby unit row

A meeting has been planned to discuss the future of the maternity unit at South Tyneside Hospital.
A meeting has been planned to discuss the future of the maternity unit at South Tyneside Hospital.

A extraordinary meeting of South Tyneside Council has been planned to discuss the future of the maternity unit at South Tyneside District Hospital.

The full council meeting has been scheduled for Thursday, December 21, at 6pm, at South Shields Town Hall.

It will see councillors discuss the future of the unit at the hospital following a move taken South Tyneside Foundation Trust to suspend all births in South Tyneside District Hospital’s maternity unit until the New Year - following the closure of the hospital’s special care baby unit (SCBU).

Coun Tracey Dixon, lead member for independence and wellbeing, said: “The temporary closure of the maternity unit is of huge concern within the borough. 
“It is only right that we give all our representatives the opportunity to discuss this and reflect the views of local residents.”

The South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust announcement, which came earlier this month, said that the maternity unit of the hospital in Harton Lane, South Shields, has been unable to accommodate any high-risk births because of a shortage of specialist staff.

The Trust announced that - after seeking further specialist advice from independent maternity experts around the region - they would be halting all deliveries at the hospital while the special baby care unit is closed.

It means 165 women who were booked in to deliver at South Tyneside maternity unit up until January 15 will be contacted personally to make alternative arrangements are made for the delivery of their babies.