Why Durham health chiefs have been asked to join 'Path to Excellence' efforts for Sunderland and South Tyneside hospitals

Representatives from County Durham could join efforts to scrutinise a major overhaul of NHS services in Sunderland and South Tyneside.
Picture c/o PixabayPicture c/o Pixabay
Picture c/o Pixabay

Sunderland City Council and South Tyneside Council formed a Joint Health Scrutiny Committee in 2017 to examine the controversial Path to Excellence scheme.

The first phase of this covered changes to stroke, maternity and pediatric care at South Tyneside Hospital and Sunderland Royal Hospital.

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And since last year (2018) care chiefs have been carrying out ‘pre consultation’ work on the second phase, covering areas such as surgery, scans and blood tests.

“Durham formally asked to be part due to the effect on residents in the Murton and Seaham areas,” said Paul Baldasera, South Tyneside Council’s strategy and democracy officer.

“We discussed as council officers and what we are proposing is that three [council] members from Durham are included on the joint committee to represent their residents and the interests of County Durham.”

Mr Baldasera, who was speaking at a meeting of the joint committee on Monday July 29, added three representatives from Durham ‘felt like the right number’.

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South Tyneside councillor Wilf Flynn said councillors from County Durham were ‘as welcome as anyone else’ to join the joint committee, but also said the future location of the committee’s meetings would need to be ‘looked at’ to take account of the new members.

Mr Baldasera said council officers would make recommendations for changes to the panel’s constitution allowing the addition of the County Durham representatives.