Councillors want to know what benefits there are in hospital service shake-up

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Town Hall bosses have demanded to know what South Tyneside stands to gain from a planned hospital services shake-up.

Health chiefs for the borough and Sunderland are pushing ahead with the second stage of their Path to Excellence scheme to improve care in the area.

While the first stage set out proposals to centralise services such as stroke, maternity and pediatric care on Wearside, councillors say they have seen little detail so far on what South Tyneside can expect to gain from the changes.

At a Joint Health Scrutiny Committee, Harton councillor Pat Hay called for answers.

She said: “We hear about all the things that are going to be moved but we need to hear about what’s going to come to South Tyneside. That’s what will concern our residents.

“What are we getting in return?

“Through this whole process we haven’t heard anything about what’s coming to South Tyneside.”

Committee chairman, Coun Rob Dix, added the borough would need to see more investment, as buildings at South Tyneside District Hospital are ‘past their sell by date’.

Patrick Garner, programme manager with South Tyneside and Sunderland Healthcare Group, said it was unlikely any possible plans to shift services to South Tyneside would be ready before next year.

“Work to secure funding for any upgrade works, he said, could take even longer.

Mr Garner said: “We’re not at the stage where we can share the shortlist of ideas. It’s not a one way street.

“We are talking about moving services to South Tyneside and possibly centralising some there too.”

Earlier this year, councillors from Sunderland and South Tyneside appealed directly to the Health Secretary with their concerns over the Path to Excellence plans.

Issues raised included the safety of sick children needing urgent out of hours care, transport for pregnant women and the ability of Sunderland Royal Hospital to cope with an increase in patients.

But in April an independent panel backed the scheme, which is being led by the Clinical Commissioning Groups for Sunderland and South Tyneside.

Work has now started on the second phase of the proposals, which is due to consider emergency and planned care, including surgery and outpatient services, such as scans and blood tests.

James Harrison

James Harrison , Local Democracy Reporting Service