Children's A&E changes at South Tyneside mean sickest patients no longer treated there

  • Dr Shaz Wahid, South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust

Children with life-threatening illnesses will no longer be treated at South Tyneside District Hospital.

Changes to children's accident and emergency services at the hospital came into force on Wednesday morning, August 4.

The A&E department at South Tyneside District Hospital is now an urgent care unit, meaning it will no longer offer treatment to the most seriously ill patients.

The new service will be open from 8am to 10pm for children and young people from birth to sixteen years old. 

The hospital says it will continue to care for the vast majority of children, for issues such as:

  • Broken bones

  • Sickness

  • Strains and sprains

  • Minor burns

Children with very serious and life-threatening conditions should instead be taken to their nearest accident and emergency department.

Those arriving at South Tyneside District Hospital who need more specialist care will be transferred to Sunderland Royal Hospital. 

The urgent care service will be staffed by nurses, rather than consultants.

The hospital says its specialist nursing team can perform many of the tasks once carried out by doctors, such as organising x-rays and scans, interpreting the results and beginning treatment. 

Our Health Correspondent Helen Ford writes:

The change to children's A&E on South Tyneside is one element of a wider reorganisation of hospital services across the borough and in neighbouring Sunderland, known as the Path to Excellence. The plan began with public consultations in 2017, and has so far involved changes to stroke and maternity services.

The reorganisation has been long, involved and controversial with the campaign group Save South Tyneside Hospital arguing that local people are losing vital, life saving services. South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust says the changes are essential to maintain the highest quality of treatment and to address a shortage of specialist staff. 

In the case of the latest change -  to paediatric A&E - the trust says that 80 per cent of young patients will continue to be seen at the new urgent care unit, with only the very sickest needing to travel elsewhere for emergency treatment. Campaigners, though, say local people will feel the loss of children's accident and emergency services on South Tyneside.