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Draft plans revealed for future healthcare in South Tyneside

South Tyneside District Hospital
South Tyneside District Hospital

The second part of plans to transform hospital care in South Tyneside have been revealed.

Local NHS leaders have gone public to explain why hospital services in the borough and Sunderland must continue to change in order to meet the future needs of patients.

Phase two of the Path to Excellence programme marks the start of a public engagement exercise that will take place over the coming months to put the argument over why hospital services must change in South Tyneside and Sunderland.

Phase two of the plan - phase one is still subject to a review by the Hela Secretary and a possible legal challenge - involves mergency care and acute medicine, emergency surgery and planned care service.

Dr Matthew Walmsley, local South Tyneside GP and chair of NHS South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said: “This is a very important document as it describes how phase two of Path to Excellence is just one small part of the need to transform all care locally.

“We know the general public perception is that hospitals provide the majority of NHS care, but the reality is that the majority of NHS care takes place in local communities and this is something we want to expand further. We also know more needs to be done to improve the health and wellbeing of the population with a focus on preventing people becoming unwell in the first place.”

We hope it helps people understand the difficult issues.

Dr Jachuck

Within the draft case for change, leaders of all four NHS partner organisations state that both South Tyneside District Hospital and Sunderland Royal Hospital will continue to exist in the future and both will continue to play pivotal roles caring for local people. They stress, however, that changes are needed so that both hospitals can work much more effectively together to serve the populations of South Tyneside and Sunderland.

But protesters part of the Save South Tyneside Hospital Campaign (SSTHC) group are still not convinced.

Roger Nettleship, chairman of the SSTHC, said: “We have been involved in the stakeholder events over this case for change document and the presentations made. We have already expressed concerns because the draft case of change has a narrative that clearly shows this will lead to the downgrading of our hospital acute services as we have suspected although no decisions have yet been made.

“We have said in these meetings that there is no concern with the hospital clinical teams collaborating but what we think staff and the communities want to see is that the vital A&E and acute health services that the people in South Tyneside and Sunderland need to access locally are delivered in both hospitals as they are now.

Dr Mickey Jachuck, consultant cardiologist and Clinical Director for Emergency Care and Medicine at the Harton Lane hospital is hoping the draft will highlight the issues at play.

He said: “Despite the challenges we are setting out, we are extremely ambitious and working together with colleagues in Sunderland we share the same vision to create the best possible services for the future.

“By creating larger clinical teams across both sites we believe this will greatly improve our workforce resilience and allow us to improve quality by creating joined-up services for our combined local populations.

“We hope the draft case for change helps people begin to understand the difficult issues we are grappling with.”

To view the draft visit www.pathtoexcellence.org.uk.

Phase two of the Path to Excellence programme is part of the NHS transformation of local hospital services which began in 2016.

It will involve the following key areas of hospital-based care: Emergency care and acute medicine, emergency surgery and planned care (including surgery and outpatients).

The draft lays out the future financial implications for the way services currently run.

It states: “If we keep going the way we are and do not change how we deliver services, we will face a deficit of £127.5 million by 2021. For example, our emergency care and acute medicine services make an annual loss of £15million and much of this is down to high costs of

temporary staff.”

It also explains how in South Tyneside in Sunderland there is more emergency hospital admissions, alcohol-related hospital admissions, cases of cancer and deaths due to wholly preventable illnesses, than elsewhere in the county.

The draft reads: “The majority of all patients currently admitted to our hospitals are over 80 years old and they often have multiple long-term conditions which require more complex care and support. We expect this demand to grow even further in the years ahead.

To view the draft visit www.pathtoexcellence.org.uk.