Hospital users in Sunderland and South Tyneside are being urged to have their say on services.
Patients and members of the public are being asked for feedback about their recent experiences as early work begins on ‘phase two’ of the Path to Excellence programme.
Phase one, which involves sending all acute stroke cases to Sunderland Royal Hospital; establishing a midwifery-led birthing centre at South Tyneside District Hospital, with a consultant-led obstetric unit at Sunderland and opening a nurse-led 8am-10pm paediatric minor injury and illness facility at South Tyneside, with 24/7 paediatric emergency department at Sunderland, has been referred to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt by South Tyneside Council and Sunderland City Council’s joint health overview and scrutiny committee.
The latest consultation phase will see more than 4,000 people being encouraged to complete a survey about their experiences across a range of emergency and planned healthcare services at South Tyneside District Hospital and Sunderland Royal .
Any patients who have used emergency care services in South Tyneside or Sunderland over the past two years, or have attended either hospital for planned surgery or outpatient care, will receive a survey in the post.
Anyone who has experience of using services in the past two years can also find online versions of the surveys on The Path to Excellence website: https://pathtoexcellence.org.uk/phase-two-2/.
The surveys mark the start of wider patient and public consultation which is being planned to take place over the next 12 months.
Doctors, nurses and support staff from both Trusts have already begun early discussions around ‘phase two’ of programme, which will look at a number of services covering both emergency and planned care.
More than 700 staff have already given their feedback on the issues and challenges being faced in their particular areas of work, as well as putting forward ideas for quality improvement. A second round of engagement events will take place over the summer, bringing together hundreds of staff from both Trusts.
A draft ‘case for change’ for ‘phase two’ of the Path to Excellence programme will be formally launched in the summer.
Melanie Johnson, Director of Nursing and Patient Experience across both South Tyneside and City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trusts said: "Both the patient surveys and staff events are very important aspects of gathering information, insight and data in order to help us identify the issues facing us and to develop different ideas to bring about quality improvements in patient care
"Later in the summer and into the autumn we will share this thinking with wider stakeholders and the public as we develop the case for change for phase two.
"We know staff across both hospitals are working incredibly hard to deliver outstanding patient care but we also know we face a number of pressures and challenges which mean there are gaps in the quality of our services which we want to improve.
"By working together as wider clinical and nursing teams, our aim is to try and resolve some of these challenges and build stronger hospital services in both South Tyneside and Sunderland which are fit for the future.
Matt Brown, director of operations for NHS South Tyneside CCG said: “I’m pleased to say that the local NHS has provided a significant amount of information to the independent reconfiguration panel this week, and we are hopeful of an early response and resolution to the referral as we know that staff in these services would like an end to the uncertainty all round.
"We’ve been clear from the start that these changes have been about taking steps to protect services that are vulnerable because of a severe shortage of skilled medical and nursing staff and the decisions made by both CCGs were based on clear clinical evidence.
"We will continue to openly engage with staff, patients, stakeholders and elected members over the coming months as we work together to develop plans to ensure the best possible improvements to local hospital services that will benefit our patients for many years to come.”