Video report by Tom Sheldrick
There are calls for downgrading plans at South Tyneside hospital to be scrapped after campaigners headed to parliament today to hand over a petition signed by 44,000 people. The concerns were also raised by local MP Emma Lewell-Buck in the Commons during Prime Minister's Questions.
It is a battle that's been going on for five years now. Stroke rehabilitation is among the treatments that have already been moved from South Tyneside, and the changes proposed now include removing some forms of surgery.
Emma Lewell-Buck MP for South Shields says, “I am pleased to be welcoming the Save South Tyneside Hospital Campaign to Westminster and am honoured to be able to hand in their petition signed by tens of thousands of supporters. For a number of years now I have seen the hospital where I was born slowly stripped of vital services, one after another. Like many of my constituents and the wider community, I have supported and fought alongside the Save South Tyneside Hospital Campaign to oppose these cuts and the further downgrading of my local hospital.”
However, Dr Shaz Wahid, Executive Medical Director and Consultant Acute Physician at South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, says the campaign is one of misinformation and has been upsetting for staff.
“We are disappointed with the repeated misinformation being shared about our hospital services. To be clear, there are no plans to move all acute services away from South Tyneside District Hospital. To suggest this is simply untrue, damaging and very upsetting for our staff after one of the most challenging years in the history of the NHS.
“The changes already made to improve stroke, maternity and paediatric services have had fantastic feedback from patients. Our hospital in South Tyneside is going from strength to strength, is now rated good by the Care Quality Commission and will see continued investment for many years ahead.
“We have already shared our intention to improve surgical services and look forward to sharing more detailed plans later this year. This is about improving surgical services, making sure more people have access to timely operations and reducing the significant backlog of patients now waiting for treatment. It is not about downgrading anything, it is about making services better.”
It is expected South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust will hold a public consultation on the second phase of changes focusing on surgery in the autumn, following delays caused by the pandemic.