South Tyneside MP calls for hospital shake-up ‘protection’

Jarrow MP Stephen Hepburn has questioned health ministers about the future of key services at South Tyneside District Hospital.

A consultation process is underway into a planned shake up of services which could see a number of treatment services transferred to Sunderland.

The ‘Path to Excellence’ proposals centre on stroke and maternity services, special care baby units and inpatient surgery.

Mr Hepburn has asked the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, if he will ‘protect South Tyneside Hospital from closure or downgrading’ in a series of parliamentary questions.

Government health minister Philip Dunne MP responded by saying that decisions would be made locally, and possibly referred to the Secretary of State for review if they are contested.

Mr Hepburn said: “We have been informed from a number of clinicians and staff that they have been excluded from the production of the Path to Excellence proposed options making this yet another bogus consultation exercise.

“We have already been down this road before when the hugely successful, popular Jarrow Walk-In Centre was closed a couple of years ago despite a passionate campaign from community activists, patients, trade unionists and local politicians. 

“Now we have another huge fight on our hands but it is a fight we can win.

“With the consultation underway, I’m urging as many local people as possible to get behind the Save South Tyneside Hospital campaign to put a stop to these unwanted proposals.”

Hospital bosses say the plans - which are to be the subject of a three-month consultation – have involved expert staff and are aimed at providing improved services.