Save South Tyneside Hospital campaigners urge supporters to join them at a vigil outside of hospital

Save South Tyneside Hospital campaigners are urging people to show their support for NHS staff at a vigil marking the start of a judicial review into changes in the way healthcare is delivered.

Save South Tyneside Hospital Campaigners will hold a vigil outside of the hospital on Monday, December 17.
Save South Tyneside Hospital Campaigners will hold a vigil outside of the hospital on Monday, December 17.

Members of the community are being asked to join campaigners at the vigil which will be held outside of South Tyneside District Hospital 's Harton Road entrance on Monday, December 17, from 12 noon to 1pm.

Organisers of the vigil say it aims to support NHS staff working to provide healthcare services in the borough.

Hospital campaigners will be attending the review in support of legal team Irwin Mitchell who are representing the case to oppose plans to shakeup acute services' at South Tyneside Hospital under the first phase of the clinical services review.

Earlier this year, lawyers for the Save South Tyneside Hospital Campaign (SSTHC) were given permission to challenge NHS bosses’ controversial Path to Excellence project.

The planned shake-up of services in the area was approved by the Sunderland and South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) in February.

This included:

* Moving acute stroke care from South Tyneside Hospital to Sunderland Royal Hospital.

* Changes to management of maternity care, with a consultant-led unit in Sunderland and a midwife-led counterpart in South Tyneside.

* An overhaul of pediatric care, leading to daytime emergency provision in South Tyneside and 24/7 provision in Sunderland.

The Save South Tyneside Hospital Campaign claims that Path to Excellence process does not have the involvement or support of clinicians and staff.

The hospital trust says 'it is simply not true to say staff are not involved' and says more than 1,000 staff have been involved in giving their views in a range of ways.

A roadshow was held throughout October and November where representatives from the NHS talked to people about the changes.

Roger Nettleship chairman of the Save South Tyneside Hospital Campaign said: "What does Save South Tyneside Hospital Campaign stand for?

"That healthcare is a right.

"We demand that locally accessible district hospitals with a wide range of properly funded acute and A&E services are retained in South Tyneside and Sunderland.

"The campaign has worked tirelessly for over two years in the fight to save our acute and emergency services at South Tyneside and stop further pressure been put on already overstretched services at City Hospital Sunderland."

Matt Brown, Director of Operations at South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: "We are all passionate about our NHS, and we all want the very best hospital services for local people.

"In particular, we want to support our staff to continue to provide the best care possible for patients so they can be as well as possible.

"The legal case next week is about the urgent critical changes we took to protect hospital-based stroke, maternity and urgent paediatric care that are exceptionally vulnerable because of a severe shortage of skilled medical and nursing staff.

"These are highly important services for our patients and the CCGs took their decision making extremely seriously, based on clear clinical evidence.

"Indeed, we are already seeing substantial improvements in treatment and outcomes, particularly for residents of South Tyneside who have a stroke, as a direct result of these changes.

"These are life-changing improvements in care for the people of South Tyneside.

"We’ve published a draft case for change for the next phase of work which sets out the challenges we are facing, for example around staffing pressures, the growing demand for services and finances.

"Over recent weeks we have been meeting with patients, community and voluntary organisations and elected members to explain these issues and we would encourage as many people as possible to watch our video or read the document on our website.

"It is simply not true to say staff are not involved, and so far over 1000 staff have been involved in giving their views in a range of ways.

"It is our staff themselves, over the last 12 months, who have identified many of the problems we are facing.

"It is our staff who are developing the ideas and designing the solutions to help solve those problems.

"All of this work is being led by teams of our doctors, nurse and other clinical staff.

"This is all part of an ongoing process and we will share those ideas in the New Year, and ask wider NHS staff, patients groups, partners and stakeholders to help us evaluate them with a view to gaining workable proposals for public consultation in the summer, where they can be debated and discussed.

"Together we are all committed to securing the very best care for the people we serve, the residents of South Tyneside and Sunderland."