MP 'extremely angry' about health chiefs' 'blatant disregard' for the needs and views of South Tyneside patients.

South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck.
South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck.

'Extremely angry' South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck has hit out at the 'blatant disregard' of health chiefs for the needs and views of South Tyneside patients.

NHS bosses voted yesterday on the future of services at South Tyneside District Hospital and Sunderland Royal Hospital.

The crunch meeting saw representatives from both NHS South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and NHS Sunderland CCG come together in public to decide on how hospital services should be run at the two sites.

The decision will see people suffering major strokes being treated in Sunderland, and all maternity services other than for low-risk births will also move to Wearside.

The 24-hour paediatric emergency department will also relocated to Sunderland Royal Hospital, with South Tyneside set to develop a day-time nurse-led paediatric minor injuries unit.

The bodies said their decisions today would mean more people will survive a stroke, mothers can choose to have their baby in a new holistic birthing centre, and sick children will have access to the right paediatric doctors and nurses under reforms which would make "vulnerable local health services in South Tyneside and Sunderland safe for the future".

Ms Lewell-Buck said: "I am extremely angry and disappointed but not at all surprised that the CCGs have announced that they are moving our vital hospital services to Sunderland Royal Hospital.

"The people of South Shields and South Tyneside as a whole have been grossly let down by those tasked with looking after our healthcare.

"The decisions made on the back of a deeply flawed consultation process will result in dramatically reduced children and young people’s accident and emergency, no stroke unit and could result in no more babies being born in South Tyneside.

"These decisions have been taken with blatant disregard to the needs and views of the people of South Tyneside.

"The options that were put forward for consultation were overtly weighted from the outset to ensure that South Tyneside District Hospital, already performing brilliantly against many national performance indicators, was not even considered as a hub for the key acute services under review.

"As well as dealing with the aftermath of this announcement and the direct impact on the people of Shields, I am now awaiting the proposals coming forward as part of phases two and three of the ‘Path to Excellence’ consultation.

"The cynic in me expects that, as in phase one, the starting point in the formulation of proposals will not be what is best for the people of Shields.

"I do fully understand the national picture of the underfunding of our NHS but that does not mean that we have to implement these Tory cuts that are predicated on dismantling our NHS in such a way that excludes the views of key clinicians and ignores the real needs of patients in our local area.

"This is not the end of the process however and my constituents can be assured that I will continue to pursue all avenues in trying to get these decisions overturned. My constituents deserve a right to accessible, appropriate services without facing disadvantage.

"I will continue to do everything in my power as an MP to ensure that their views and concerns are front and centre, however unpopular that approach may be in some quarters.

"Finally, I would like to re-iterate my admiration and appreciation for the way that South Tyneside Hospital Staff have conducted themselves during these very difficult times. It is a measure of their professionalism that they have continued to deliver excellent services with heart and compassion."

Dr Matthew Walmsley, chairman of NHS South Tyneside CCG, said:“There is no element of doubt and to be categorically clear, retaining the status quo and not making any changes is simply not an option for these services – and as local health care leaders we must act in the best interests of patients as our first duty of care to our patients is to do no harm. Patient safety and wellbeing must come first.

“Over the last few months both Clinical Commissioning Groups have been considering all the information gathered during the formal consultation from the public, patients, staff, the two hospital trusts, clinical networks, the North East Ambulance Service and other stakeholders such as campaign groups, elected members and members of parliament.

“This has allowed the opportunity for further comments received from the public feedback sessions from the draft consultation feedback report, other data or views to be considered as well as consideration of alternative service models that have been suggested through a robust public consultation process which is on track for best practice certification.

“We’ve been very clear that the current situation cannot continue, and I know that these changes to these important local services are absolutely the right thing to do and will have a direct impact on people’s experiences of care and the clinical outcomes they will have.

“With the decisions we have made, we will have saved more people’s lives today than I have done on any other day in my medical career so far.

“Due to these decisions more people will survive a stroke, mothers can choose to have their baby in South Tyneside which means babies will be born in South Tyneside and sick children will get to see the right health care professionals for their illness, but it is extremely likely that a failure to act now could compromise the safety of patients in our care and lead to unplanned closures of services across South Tyneside and Sunderland under crisis circumstances, as we have already seen with the stroke and our special care baby unit in South Tyneside in order to keep patients safe.

“Safe and high quality services means care that treats your medical condition by the correct professional, with access to the best diagnostics and treatment to give people the best possible chance of recovery and if patients are not able to recover, does not make them worse or do harm.”