South Tyneside Hospital: Petition against services shake-up taken to Westminster

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image copyrightSave South Tyneside Hospital Campaign
image captionA delegation made the trip to London with the petition

Campaigners aiming to protect services at South Tyneside Hospital have taken their message to Westminster.

A 44,000-signature petition calling for a return of services and safeguarding of care was handed over on Wednesday.

It was part of a long-running campaign following an overhaul which led to some patients having their treatment moved to Sunderland Royal Hospital.

Health bosses said patient care had improved, and South Tyneside Hospital was going from strength to strength.

The shake-up was approved in 2018 by the Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) for Sunderland and South Tyneside and has seen stroke care centralised at Sunderland Royal Hospital, as well as changes to maternity care with a consultant-led unit in Sunderland and a new midwife-led unit in South Tyneside.

image copyrightSave South Tyneside Hospital Campaign
image captionCampaigners met local MPs at Westminster

However, the Save South Tyneside Hospital Campaign, which had fought the initial moves, is concerned that further reorganisation will lead to more cuts.

Roger Nettleship, from the group, said: "We've taken our fight to London to save our hospital, they are still talking about further cuts to our services.

"As the petition shows these closures have not been agreed by the people of South Tyneside, or Sunderland, and they are not in our name.

"Healthcare is a right in a modern society and it is the people of South Tyneside who should decide on the services that our hospital provides and they need access to vital coronary care, ITU and other acute services and a trauma A&E here in our community."

Health bosses said in a statement that it was not about downgrading but about making services better, and the changes that had happened so far have already had "fantastic feedback" from patients.

It added that there were no plans to remove all acute services away from South Tyneside District Hospital.

Emma Lewell-Buck, the Labour MP for South Shields, raised the issue of cuts at the hospital in Prime Minster's Questions in the House of Commons on Wednesday but Boris Johnson denied there had been any and spoke of investment to come.

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