South Tyneside and Sunderland health trusts join forces to help improve care
Trusts in Sunderland and South Tyneside have made a commitment to work more closely together “to ensure that the local communities they serve will continue to receive high quality and sustainable hospital and community health services.”
City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust and South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust, which serve a total population of 430,000, have already collaborated to provide services such as stroke treatment and paediatrics, but say more must be done to integrate services.
Both trusts say they see the importance of a hospital in each of their areas and providing a range of emergency and planned services, but say there is an “urgent need to rebalance services” as it is no longer safe or sustainable to duplicate some care at each location.
The South of Tyne Healthcare Group will embark on an ambitious programme of reconfiguring services.
This will see Sunderland’s trust build on specialist services, increasing its focus on emergency surgical and complex planned acute services.
In South Tyneside, where the trust has been moving away from complex acute services, will lead on out-of-hospital rehabilitation, diagnostic and screening services, as well as community services in partnership with both councils and primary care teams.
In the first year, the group will work together to use their joint expertise to transform stroke services, trauma services, emergency surgical services and maternity services, with a plan to be drawn up between the trusts and the two Clinical Commissioning Groups.
Both trusts will continue to function as statutory NHS Foundation Trusts, accountable to their local communities through their governors.
Sitting aside the two FTs will be a board and executive team which will feature non-executives, executives and leading clinicians from both trusts, who will govern the transformation and partnership working.
Trust chairman John Anderson, who represents Sunderland, and Neil Mundy, from the South Tyneside trust, said in a joint statement: “We are delighted to launch this Alliance which builds on the increasingly close collaborative working arrangements for clinical services across Sunderland and South Tyneside. “This further joint working is essential and presents a unique opportunity to enhance healthcare for our patients and local communities.”
The announcement of the move had been backed by unions, as well as Monitor, the NHS regulator.
Paul Chandler, regional director at Monitor, said: “We welcome today’s announcement.
“It’s good news for patients and the health services they rely on, and it’s a good example of how the NHS can work together to meet the financial and operational challenges that it is facing.”
John McDade, of Unison, said: “It will bring future co-operation in health services, rather than competition and we welcome this move between the two trusts.
“They are going to work more closely together for the benefit of patients and staff.
“We have seen cost cutting and we appreciate the trusts are under extreme financial pressures and we will work with the trusts to make this a success.”
Peta Clark, operational manager for the Royal College of Nursing, said: “It’s important to remember that both trusts have already been working in partnership for a number of years.
“The NHS is facing huge financial pressures.
“So, by working together like this, both trusts can become more efficient.
“Hopefully this should free up more resources to allow the trusts to spend on front line care.
“We all want to see more nurses and doctors on wards, and this sort of working has the potential to make recruitment and retention of front line staff more successful.”