Hospital bosses are pushing ahead with the second phase of their controversial plans over the provision of services at South Tyneside and Sunderland hospitals.
Over the next three days 250 hospital doctors, nurses, therapists and other staff will be gathering to consider what health chiefs describe as ‘new and innovative ways of delivering high quality, joined up, sustainable care’.
The staff sessions, which start today, are part of the ‘second phase’ of the Path to Excellence, a transformation programme of local hospital healthcare across South Tyneside and Sunderland.
Phase one of the programme – which include plans to transfer all acute stroke services to Sunderland Royal Hospital permanently, and develop a free-standing midwifery-led unit at South Tyneside Hospital, but relocate all consultant-led and special care baby unit services to Sunderland – faces a possible legal challenge.
The issue has already been refered to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt for his decision.
Over the past six months, NHS doctors, nurses and support staff from both hospital Trusts have already been coming together to begin early discussions around ‘phase two’ of the programme which will look at a number of hospital services covering both emergency and planned care which are provided at South Tyneside District Hospital and Sunderland Royal Hospital.
Over 700 staff across both Trusts have already given their feedback to date on the issues and challenges being faced in their particular areas of work, as well as putting forward ideas for quality improvement.
Dr Shaz Wahid, medical director at South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust and clinical lead for the Path to Excellence programme, said: “Our staff time is really valuable, so I’m pleased that we’ve been able to arrange for colleagues representing a good cross section of the clinical service review areas to spend dedicated time looking at the issues, giving their feedback and coming up with ideas on how we can make improvements to patient care.
“Work so far with staff has focussed on listening to their concerns around their current daily challenges, understanding their frustrations in not being able to consistently deliver the very highest quality of care for patients and beginning to think through what some of the potential future solutions might be.”
As well as engaging with staff, work on ‘phase two’ is also being informed by information from patients on their recent experiences across a range of emergency and planned healthcare services.
Last week, NHS leaders met with elected members on the Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee for South Tyneside and Sunderland to share an update on progress around ‘phase two’.