Council bosses have called for talks with hospital chiefs to ‘justify’ the possibility of a health trust merger.
The boards of South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust and City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust announced yesterday there is a “mutual desire” to begin looking at whether the two organisations could merge.
South Tyneside Council is seeking clarification over the perceived benefits any new arrangement might bring, and wants to meet with hospital executives, including chief executive officer Ken Bremner.
Coun Tracey Dixon, lead member for independence and well-being at South Tyneside Council, said: “While this is a matter for South Tyneside and Sunderland City Hospitals, the council will be asking hospital executives to meet with the appropriate select committee to provide justification of any potential merger and highlight the benefits to the people of South Tyneside.”
NHS South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has welcomed the idea of a merger.
Dr David Hambleton, chief officer of NHS South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “We welcome the announcement by South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust and City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust of their mutual desire to begin exploring the possibility of becoming one organisation in the future and the ambition to transform the way local services are delivered for the benefit of patient care.
The council will be asking hospital executives to meet with the appropriate select committee to provide justification of any potential mergerCoun Tracey Dixon
“It’s very clear that their alliance is showing positive benefits for local people and in particular sharing clinical expertise to improve access to services, quality of care and health outcomes for people in South Tyneside.
“For example, there are hundreds of South Tyneside eye patients who do not have to travel to Sunderland for their out-patient assessments, and we are seeing improvement in outcomes for stroke patients as they have better access to specialist stroke services, meaning they have more chance to return to normal and not have to deal with the life-long disabilities that a delay in access to specialist care can cause.”
But South Shields MP, Emma Lewell-Buck, said: “I am not surprised at all to learn that the South Tyneside and Sunderland Foundation Trusts are considering a merger.
“This is something I predicted at the formation of the ‘alliance’.
“I will be requesting a great deal of detail on the rationale behind this latest development as there needs to be a full understanding of what it is that the trust hopes to achieve and what benefits this proposal could bring for my constituents and the hard-working staff at South Tyneside Hospital.”
No one from staff union Unison or the Royal Colege of Nursing was available for comment.