Sunderland and South Tyneside hospital chiefs put breaks on phase two of controversial Path to Excellence shake-ups

NHS chiefs have admitted the public are unlikely to have their say on controversial reforms in Sunderland and South Tyneside until next year.

Wednesday, 31st July 2019, 12:18 am
Sunderland and South Tyneside hospital chiefs put breaks on phase two of controversial Path to Excellence shake-ups

Consultation on the second phase of the Path to Excellence scheme, covering areas such as surgery, scans and blood tests, was expected to start in the summer.

But following a round of ‘pre-consultation’ with staff and other groups, bosses have conceded they will have to pump the brakes on their original timeline.

“We’re in a process of engagement and we’ve had some ideas for people to consider to help get the clinical design team’s perspective,” said Matt Brown, director of operations at South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

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“This is not a full consultation, this is an engagement before we go to consultation, but I think it is unlikely we will be looking at starting consultation in this calendar year (2019).

“That’s particularly because as we’ve been going on we’ve had a wealth of different perspectives.”

Mr Brown was speaking at a meeting of the South Tyneside and Sunderland Joint Health Scrutiny Committee.

Speaking at the same panel in June 2018, care leaders said ‘pre-consultation’ on phase two proposals had started in December 2017 and hoped it would be completed in time to begin formal consultation by summer 2019.

Phase two of the Path to Excellence is examining overhauls to emergency and planned care, including surgery and outpatient services, such as scans and blood tests.

This is also expected to cover where services are based, with the prospect of some being moved from Sunderland Royal Hospital to South Tyneside Hospital, and vice versa.

Phase one, which survived a legal challenge and a government review, made changes to stroke, maternity and pediatric care.

Coun Rob Dix, the committee’s chairman, said: “What we need to be made clear is what services are coming to South Tyneside.

“It’s councillors who get it in the neck, perhaps because we’re at the end of the phone, and we need to be able to tell people what is coming to South Tyneside as soon as possible.”