Letter over hospital’s future could be sent within the month

Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt MP
Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt MP

South Tyneside Council has become the first of the two authorities to rubber-stamp a decision calling for the Secretary of State for Health to intervene over the future of three key hospital services.

The nove follows Sunderland and South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Groups decision to overhaul stroke, maternity and gynaecology and children’s emergency services at South Tyneside District Hospital.

The referral to the Secretary of State for Health is being based on two grounds - councillors are not satisfied with the adequacy of content of the consultation and the committee considers that the proposal would not be in the interests of the health service in its areas.

The need for the Overview and Scrutiny Committee to ratify the decision - taken by councillors from both Sunderland and South Tyneside sitting on a Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee - was in case the authorities failed to reach an agreement with each other.

It is expected Sunderland councillors will also back the move to write to the Secretary of State when they meet later this month.

A letter - to be agreed by the Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny committee - will then be drafted before being sent to the CCGs for comment. It will then be forwarded to the Secretary of State.

The move to involve the Secretary of State has been welcomed by both councillors and campaigners.

Hospital chiefs have said the referal to Mr Hunt will lead to serious delays in their plans to improve services in South Tynesid and Sunderland.