The future of South Tyneside District Hospital is set to be debated in Parliament - following a push by South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck.
A slot has been secured by the town’s Labour MP next Thursday where she will be given a chance to air her views and concerns over the temporary closure of units and the fears of residents over what could be next.
This will be a half-hour debate at the end of the day’s business on Thursday where it will be an opportunity for me to hold this government to account over what is happneing at our local hospital, to ask questions and get some answers for us all.Emma Lewell-Buck
The MP has been fighting alongside protestors from the Save South Tyneside Hospital campaign in response to the Path to Excellence proposals put forward by NHS chiefs which could see key services, for stroke patients and in both women’s and children’s healthcare, affected.
Campaigners fear this could see the downgrading of acute services at the hospital and put extra strain on staff at Sunderland Royal Hospital where services would be transferred.
Fears of a lack of investment in the NHS by the Government will also be raised by the MP.
Mrs Lewell-Buck said: “This will be a half-hour debate at the end of the day’s business on Thursday where it will be an opportunity for me to hold this government to account over what is happening at our local hospital, to ask questions and get some answers for us all.
“I have made no secret of my views regarding the hospital.
“One of the questions will be over the visit by Jeremy Hunt to the hospital, earlier this year, where he said the hospital does have a future.
“Yet all the consultations are showing it doesn’t have much of a future - so I’ll be querying the difference as to what he’s saying and what is actually happening locally.
“I will also be raising the issue of the lack of investment in the NHS which is forcing local trusts into these positions.
“This is a dual process, it is a fact it’s the government to blame, but I also feel that locally the consultation has not been carried out appropriately and has not been inclusive enough by involving clinicians or that it has been open and honest enough.”
Today, campaigners were gathering at the Harton Lane entrance of the hospital to protest against the recent temporary closures of the Special Care Baby Unit and the suspension of births until the New Year due to what hospital bosses say is a shortage of staff.
Mums booked into the hospital for births are currently being supported by staff as they make alternative arrangements.
The protest will see a letter delivered by Jarrow Constituency Labour Party calling for services to be restored and a rota devised by doctors and nurses, which could see the units re-opened, agreed.
The letter has also been signed by Jarrow MP Stephen Hepburn.