‘Better hospitals’ won’t improve health in South Tyneside - health boss

Dr David Hambleton
Dr David Hambleton

‘Better hospitals’ are not the answer to poor health in South Tyneside, according to a top doctor.

David Hambleton, chief executive of South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said, greater focus is needed on prevention and lifestyle to limit people’s need to access healthcare.

Dr Hambleton made the comments while discussing controversial ‘Path to Excellence’ reform plans at South Tyneside Council’s Health and Wellbeing Board.

He said: “People will often focus on what the endgame is. But the more important question is how do we improve the health and wellbeing of our population?

“We won’t do that by having better hospitals, to be frank.

“I think we need to have that conversation and ask how do we talk about that, rather than who is doing my operation, as important as that is.”

The CCG has started consulting on the second phase of its Path to Excellence scheme, which will look at changes to  emergency and planned care, including surgery and outpatient services, such as scans and blood tests, in South Tyneside and Sunderland.

The CCG is pressing ahead despite the first phase, covering stroke, maternity and pediatric care, being referred to the government by concerned councillors.

But Dr Hambleton insisted lessons had been learned from the previous stage and insisted the proposals are in the best interests of patients.

He added: “We want high quality, safe, effective services and this is designed to give us options for how to deliver them.”

James Harrison

James Harrison , Local Democracy Reporting Service