Decisions made over the future of three key hospital services in South Tyneside and Sunderland are set to be referred to the Secretary of State.
Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee from South Tyneside Council and Sunderland City Council decided today that they would be exercising their powers to refer the decisions made by South Tyneside and Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Groups to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.
The plan is to overhaul stroke, maternity and gynaecology and children’s emergency services at South Tyneside District Hospital.
The move was welcomed with a round of applause by campaigners and councillors who attended the packed meeting held at South Shields Town Hall.
Sunderland Councillor, Coun Norma Wright, announced the proposal that the consultation on the phase one of the Path to Excellence “should be referred” to the secretary of state.
The referral is being based on two of four grounds - councillors are not satisfied with the adequacy of content of the consultation and the committee considers that the proposal would not be in the interests of the health service in its areas.
The letter will then be circulated to members to agree on before it is given to the authorities relevant committees to rubber stamp before it is sent to the Secretary of State for consideration.
Ahead of the meeting, health bosses warned in a letter that, by referring the issue to Mr Hunt, patients’ lives would be put at risk.
This, they say is because any intervention by the Health Secretary could hold up the process by between six and nine months.
However, during the meeting Coun Rob Dix said he had been in touch with the Secretary of State’s office and the Independent Reconfiguration Panel and they confirmed they only had two cases to deal with, one of which had been completed.
He said: “I think the referral will come back a lot quicker.”