A senior Labour councillor has hit back at accusations they are not doing enough to fight for hospital services to remain in South Tyneside.
Coun John McCabe has spoke out in response to claims by lead campaigner for South Tyneside Green Party, David Francis’ following an emergency meeting of the council, last month.
As a council we want the maternity unit to be restored immediately.Coun John McCabe
The meeting was called after the shock temporary closure of Special Care Baby Unit followed just days later by the suspension of births at South Tyneside District Hospital.
The move was taken, according to hospital bosses, due to a shortage of specialist staff.
In a statement issued by South Tyneside Green party, David Francis said: “The councils response to the trusts proposals, the so called ‘Path to Excellence’ was a 134 word statement, so brief it did not even mention the slanted nature of consultation, or vitally important failures to address transport and equality issues.
“The real challenge to this dangerous downgrade has been left to groups like us and the Save South Tyneside Hospital Campaign group who have launched a legal challenge to the proposals and sham consultation process.
“These groups are doing what our elected representatives should be doing to protect the health services”
The statement hit a nerve with Coun McCabe, who also fought to try save Palmer’s Hospital in Jarrow from closure.
He said: “I am a member of the South Tyneside Hospital campaign and have been a member, not just for the district hospital but since the fight for Palmers, along with a number of Jarrow and Hebburn councillors.
“As an individual we can say one thing but as a council we have to have a direction and we have legal processes which we have to abide by. “As a council we want the maternity unit to be restored immediately. We are listening to what the people are saying and we know what people want, but we have a process we have to go through.
“For the Green Party to says elected members are not fighting is wrong. We are and it’s quite upsetting Green Party members are trying to make political capital out of this serious situation.”