Campaigners and residents have expressed their frustration after a consultation meeting to discuss proposals for a shake-up at South Tyneside Hospital.
Hospital bosses met with around 100 people who attemded the meeting - one of a number of consultation events looking potential changes to NHS services in South Tyneside and Sunderland.
The changes centre on stroke, maternity and children and young people’s services as the NHS looks to meet increasing workforce pressures and financial constraints.
At the meeting - at South Shields Customs House - Dr Shaz Wahid, medical director for South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust talked through the proposed options for change.
But, afterwards, campaigners aganist the document - called The Path to Excellence - said they felt they were not given a chance to ask searching questions.
Roger Nettleship, chair of Save South Tyneside Hospital campaign, said some questions around the special care baby unit were ‘brushed over’.
He said: “The meeting was broken up into tables and it was not possible to hear what people had to say on other tables.
“Fear that it was not safe or good for mothers to lose our special care baby unit were brushed over.”
He added: “Questions over whether they could satisfy the need for further clinical collaboration across A&E, maternity and stroke acute services were dismissed.”
At the meeting Dr David Hambleton, accountable officer for NHS South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group said he understood that travel was one of the major issues if some services moved to Sunderland Royal.
The controversial option include a plan to move in-hospital stroke treatment to Sunderland Royal; two options to improve maternity services covering hospital based birthing facilities and two options to improve children and young people’s services.
Dr Wahid said: “In April and May last year we set up a programme for service reviews and asked a design team of senior clinical staff specific questions of how they would like to see services delivered in the future.
“They used a process to come up with a shortlist of options that they believe will deliver the best care going forward.”
When asked at the meeting whether stroke services had been deliberately run down, Dr Wahid denied this, saying patient care comes first.
Another person at the meeting asked whether Sunderland Royal Hospital would have the capacity for special care babies.
Dr Wahid said: “Sunderland Royal Hospital will have to make some changes to make up the bed numbers but the capacity will be available.”
The consultation period ends at midnight on October 15.
From October to November an analysis of the feedback will be held by an independent organisation with an overall decision to be made in 2018.
*Save Our Hospital Services will hold a meeting on Friday, July 21 at 6.30pm at Brinkburn Community Centre, in South Shields.