Health reform '˜about quality not cash'

The '˜modest' savings expected from an overhaul of care in South Tyneside make it clear the decision was about quality, not cash, a court has heard.

The plans had been criticised by lawyers for the Save South Tyneside Hospital campaign, who have challenged health chiefs for the borough at the High Court in Leeds in a judicial review this week.

They had argued the small saving demonstrated poor decision making by the Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) for Sunderland and South Tyneside.

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But today, Eleanor Grey QC, defending, claimed that shows cost cutting was a secondary concern for bosses.

She said: “There is reference to the financial side of things and the campaign group is correct that the savings would be modest.

“But it doesn’t follow that was a decision of flawed logic to adopt these proposals and it is perfectly reasonable to make a small saving.”

She added: “If the CCGs did adopt these conclusions, what does this say about their real motivation, about the need to achieve services which were sustainable because of workforce pressures and improved clinical quality?

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“The very fact that the savings were modest does not itself mean that, rather it demonstrates its reality.”

The changes, part of the controversial ‘Path to Excellence’ scheme, cover stroke, maternity and pediatric care.

Yesterday Vikram Sachdeva QC, representing the campaign group, said the savings represented a ‘drop in the ocean compared to the financial challenges being faced’.

Ms Grey and Mr Sachveda both finished making their cases today.

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His Honour Judge Mark Raeside QC is now expected to deliver his verdict on Friday.

James Harrison

James Harrison , Local Democracy Reporting Service