Speak up to save hospital services, campaigners urge the public

Campaigners are urging people to speak up and oppose draft plans which could change the future health care in South Tyneside. The sustainability and transformation plan (STP) for Northumberland, Tyne and Wear, and North Durham is one of 44 plans being developed across the country. However, critics – including South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck – say the plan, which is reviewing a number of services at South Tyneside District Hospital, including maternity, stroke and emergency care, is not transparent enough and the public should be concerned.

There are already fears for the borough’s services following an alliance with the City Hospitals Sunderland Foundation Trust – which created the South Tyneside and Sunderland Healthcare Group – last year. The Save South Tyneside Hospital Campaign (SSTHC) believes the hospital in Harton Lane, South Shields, could become a ‘cottage hospital’ if acute services are transferred to Wearside. But trust bosses say any potential changes, which would be subject to a fill public consultation, would lead to better integration of care and resources. Mrs Lewell-Buck said: “The STPs set out to change our services and medical provision immeasurably in South Tyneside. “I urge residents to have their say on the proposals via the consultation process. “This issue is vitally important, affecting the lives of everyone living here in South Shields and across South Tyneside. “Everyone’s voice must be heard. We need services which work for our local community, based here in South Shields. “The plans should not take those services away, leaving people with poor health care or services based outside of the area, all of which are very real possibilities. Please make sure you take part in the consultation.”

Full story in The Shields Gazette, 9 January 2017