Dad of last baby born in South Tyneside backs hospital campaigners
The father of one of the last babies born at South Tyneside Hospital joined campaigners as they launched a protest over the temporary closure of the maternity unit.
Michael Grimes was one of hundreds of people who gathered outside the gates of the hospital in Harton Lane, today, angered over the latest move by NHS bosses.
Last week, a decision was taken to close the Special Care Baby Unit - due to staff shortages.
This was followed on Sunday by the announcement there were to be no more deliveries at the maternity unit, following guidance from maternity experts.
UPDATE: Man dies after serious collision between car and pedestrian in South Shields as police appeal for witnesses
Striking new images show vision for South Tyneside College and Customs House in bid for town centre levelling-up cash
Drivers warned of road closures on busy A194 in South Tyneside
New shop units to be created in Harton Village, with grocer and hairdresser likely uses
Countdown to Metro line closure - travellers urged to prepare for service suspension between Pelaw and South Shields
The move left many people angered and staff in limbo as to the future of the department.
Michael, 37, and his partner Louise White, 32, were the last parents to have their child born within the unit before it was closed.
Harper-Grace Grimes White, was born on Saturday at 3.29am weighing 7.2lbs. The couple's new daughter was two weeks early as had been due on December 19.
Mr Grimes said: "It was like she knew. I couldn't fault the service one bit.
"They made it so easy for us and put us at ease. They gave us tremendous service, absolutely incredible.
"When we heard about the closure we were both shocked. My partner was in tears. My daughter was two weeks early, so if she had been born on her due date we would have had to find other means - it would have been a right nightmare.
"I think the turnout is great and it's essential. You need a hospital in your local area. The service is incredible, I couldn't fault it one bit - no criticisms whatsoever.
"If I have another child, I want it to be born in South Shields. And the people of this town need this hospital and it needs to remain.
Dr Shaz Wahid, Medical Director at South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust said: “We fully appreciate that the urgent temporary measures we have had to put in place this week to
protect patient safety have come as upsetting news for patients, staff and the local community.
It is our duty, however, to ensure the safety of mothers and babies in our care and this has been our primary focus through this urgent situation, as well as our duty of care to our staff. We will continue to keep all stakeholders fully updated as soon as we can on the situation."