Emma Lewell-Buck set to question Prime Minister over 'downgrading of hospital services'

South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck.
South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck.

South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck has said she will 'fight tooth and nail' to stop proposed changes to hospital services in South Tyneside.

The Labour MP is to question the Prime Minister about planned changes to services at South Tyneside District Hospital during Prime Minister's Questions (PMQs) at Westminster today.

She will be asking Theresa May about the future of hospital services in the borough and the reason why they are 'downgrading services at South Tyneside District Hospital' during PM's Question Time, which will run from 12pm to 1pm.

Mrs Lewell-Buck will also meet 40 campaigners from the Save South Tyneside Hospital group who have traveled down to London in the hope of meeting with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn about the issue.

The trip is being supported by Unison South Tyneside Health Branch, and will see some campaigners from South Tyneside and Sunderland watch the PMQs and meet with their local MPs before returning home.

The visit follows the decision by South Tyneside and Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Groups earlier this year to make changes in the way maternity, stroke and children’s accident and emergency services will be delivered.

Ahead of PMQs Mrs Lewell-Buck said: "I am going to be asking about the downgrading of services at South Tyneside Hospital.

"The decision has been made against the views of the public and local clinicians, yet they are ploughing ahead.

"There is no proven case saying this will benefit the people of South Tyneside.

"The hospital said it was an alliance but now the hospital is saying that it is a merger.

"But it is not a merger, it is a takeover.

"The local authority is referring it to the Secretary of State and hospital campaigners have launched a judicial review.

"We are going to fight tooth and nail to stop them doing this."

Phase one of the Path to Excellence programme has been referred to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt by South Tyneside Council and Sunderland City Council’s joint health overview and scrutiny committee.

Matt Brown, Director of Operations at South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “These critical changes have been about taking steps to protect services that are exceptionally vulnerable because of a severe shortage of skilled medical and nursing staff.

"So there is no doubt, we state again that South Tyneside Hospital has a strong and vibrant future, serving local residents.

"These changes to services are about ensuring our services are appropriately staffed by the right numbers of skilled medical and nursing staff, so that we can provide the best possible care to local people.”

For more details on Save South Tyneside Hospital Campaign visit: http://www.savesouthtynesidehospital.org