Watchdog unhappy with adequacy of consultation over future of South Tyneside and Sunderland hospitals

South Tyneside District Hospital
South Tyneside District Hospital

Work has now started preparing a letter urging the Secretary of State to hold a review into decisions made on the future of key hospital services in South Tyneside.

The committee were given four options in which to base their decision to refer the case to the secretary of state and the referral will be based on:•The scrutiny committee were not satisfied with the adequacy of content of the consultation;

•It considers that the proposal would not be in the interest of the health service in the area

The move to refer the decisions comes following the announcement made, last month, by the South Tyneside and Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Groups over the future of three key hospital services in South Tyneside.

These were:

•All acute stroke cases directed to Sunderland Royal Hospital.

•A free-standing midwifery-led unit (FMLU), known as a birthing centre, operated at South Tyneside District Hospital, with a medically-led obstetric unit at Sunderland.

•The development of a nurse-led paediatric minor injury and illness facility at South Tyneside District Hospital – open 8am to 10pm – and 24/7 paediatric emergency department at Sunderland Royal. Before that, short-term, there will be a daytime paediatric emergency department at South Tyneside District Hospital and 24/7 paediatric emergency department at Sunderland Royal.

The decision came after some councillors highlighted anomalies during the course of the consultation.

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Coun Pat Hay said; “There has been a great many anomalies within it. Some of thosehave come from the ambulance service and it’s right to highlight that.

“For example the response times. The ambulance services said the response times would be 12 minutes from South Tyneside to Sunderland but that would depend as they stated on the time of day.

“With the effect of the A19 and roadworks and traffic, we have heard from ambulance workers that, from the far end of South Tyneside to Sunderland within 12 minutes is not possible in rush hour.”

Coun Anne Hetherington also queried figures given for the number of high risk births mentioned in reports.

She added: “How, as a committee, can we be confident in these proposals that are being put forward to us, when we are talking about the safety of mothers and babies in our community.”

She claimed documentation she had requested to support the argument that midwife-led units were safe in areas with similar depravation to South Tyneside had not been forthcoming.