Campaigners were unable to convince a High Court judge the process which led to a shake-up on care in Sunderland and South Tyneside was ‘fundamentally unfair’ and ‘unlawful’.
The Save South Tyneside Hospital group had opposed the changes on the grounds health chiefs had already made up their minds before going out to public consultation.
This included an accusation there had been ‘no attempt’ to consider keeping services, which covered stroke, maternity and pediatric care, as they were.
The changes were part of the ‘Path to Excellence’ programme, a package of reforms approved by the Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) for Sunderland and South Tyneside in February.
Care bosses had argued this would improve staffing and recruitment, as well as cut costs.
Lawyers acting for the campaigners claimed the move was presented as a ‘fair accompli’, with the so-called ‘do-nothing’ option removed from consideration.
In defence however, the court was told the prospect of retaining the services on Tyneside was not considered a viable option.
This position was accepted by His Honour Judge Mark Raeside QC, who said the CCGs had given the public opportunity to present alternative views and suggestions, while also maintaining hospitals were ‘facing an unprecedented challenge’.
James Harrison , Local Democracy Reporting Service