The ‘Save South Tyneside Hospital’ campaign is in full swing with protests and marches still on the horizon to prevent the possible loss of the acute services at the Hospital.
Campaigners have been marching monthly since May in protest over the alliance between South Tyneside Hospital and Sunderland Royal Hospital.
There are fears that this alliance will bring with it the possible loss of the acute services such as the stroke and maternity wards at South Tyneside Hospital. This would mean that patients would have to go to Sunderland or Newcastle if they were in need of those services.
Roger Nettleship, Chair of the Save South Tyneside Hospital campaign, said: “They formed an alliance based on Sunderland services being downgraded.”
He also said: “We are very concerned that the loss of our award winning stroke unit, the further loss of acute services such as the consultant led maternity…will not only undermine the viability of our Accident and Emergency services but greatly impact on the availability of acute services for the people of South Tyneside and Sunderland.
“This will affect the whole provision of healthcare in Sunderland, both hospitals coming together, due to the financial deficit by the government and through many cost improvement programmes, leading to the hospitals being worried about running out of money.”
Mr Nettleship discussed the NHS, feeling that it has “been run down” and that there is a “lack of clinical and medical staff” to support the services at the hospitals.
He feels that: “Access to health care is a right in a modern society and such services should be guaranteed and be locally accessible at both hospitals.”
According to the campaigners, the region has been told to cut £960million from the NHS budget by 2020/21. This would also mean that staff numbers would be reduced in all Hospitals in the area.
Mr Nettleship said: “That staff at both hospitals tell us that they are all under great pressure to deliver the services to benefit patients safely. They are horrified at the prospect of further closures of acute services and the impact on them and the service they provide.”
Hundreds of people marched in October and their next campaign meeting is to be held later this month.
Andrea Hetherington, Deputy Head of Corporate Affairs for the Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The NHS locally, regionally and nationally is facing unprecedented financial pressure and demand on services and we strongly believe that the action to address the risks this presents needs to be taken now.
“Both Trusts recognise the importance and value of having a local hospital providing a range of emergency and planned services but, equally, we recognise the urgent need to rebalance services across our two areas as it will no longer be safe or sustainable to duplicate the provision of all services in each location.”
In addition, Operations Manager, Jane Pyrke for South Tyneside’s HealthWatch, an organisation that focuses representing and supporting patients, located in Jarrow stated “the local clinical commissioning group do their best in order to get the best outcome for the South Tyneside Service.”
She said that there is still currently no plan in the draft when it comes to the possible closures of the acute services at South Tyneside Hospital, as it has not yet gone to the public consultation.