Health chief on the defensive

LORRAINE LAMBERT ... protecting local services.
LORRAINE LAMBERT ... protecting local services.

SOUTH Tyneside District Hospital will not survive unless it works in partnership with neighbouring medical trusts, a health boss has warned.

The South Shields hospital has lost a number of its on-site services in recent years.

Youngsters in the borough needing long-term treatment now have to travel to Sunderland Royal Hospital or the Great North Children’s Hospital in Newcastle for care.

Moves are also under way to close the Bede Wing psychiatric unit in the hospital’s grounds and two of its mental health wards.

At a meeting of South Tyneside Council’s people select committee, Lorraine Lambert, chief executive of South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust, defended its commitment to working collectively with NHS services in Sunderland and Gateshead to “deliver safe, sustainable and cost-effective services across the south of Tyne and Wear”.

The borough health trust now focuses on core health services, involving less emergency surgery, and more on outpatient, rehabilitation and community services.

Mrs Lambert said: “If we don’t work in this way, we won’t have a hospital in South Tyneside in the future.

“We are doing a lot to preserve and protect local services.

“We are a major employer. We employ 5,500 people. We turn over about £220m a year.”

“In terms of children’s services that was really, really difficult, but by following the model we did, we maintained a very local service for 99 per cent of our children.

“The proof is in the pudding, and we have not had to transfer more than about two children a week that wouldn’t have otherwise been transferred from South Tyneside District Hospital, and we get fantastic feedback from patients and parents.”