Saturday 14th October 2017
South Shields saw hundreds of people from South Tyneside and Sunderland take to the streets against the downgrading of acute services at South Tyneside District Hospital. The day started with a vibrant march from Haven Point Ocean Road to South Shields marketplace for the rally.
We thank everyone who took part, with special thanks to all our speakers and other people who contributed to it's success. The march reflected the appeal of the campaign to people of all ages, views, and different walks of life, including large numbers of hospital staff coming together to take a stand in defence of our hospital services and to assert that this is our NHS and that we have a right to access these vital acute services at our district hospital.
This is the second march and rally organised by SSTHC, the previous one just under a year ago was a similar success. However, at that time the Sunderland CHS Executive Hospital team had yet to “temporarily” close the hospital acute stroke ward, and whilst declaring that it was “no longer safe and sustainable for either organisation to duplicate the provision of services in each location” they had yet to announce the downgrading of the hospital's children's 24/7 A&E, the loss of consultant-led maternity services, the loss of the special care baby unit and the recommendation of the loss of all hospital stroke services. The downgrading of these services was announced in July 2017 for a consultation that finished on October 15th 2017.
We understand that a final decision on these options (consultation phase-1) can be expected early in 2018. We also understand they intend to launch a new consultation on the review of all other acute services including critical care and our A&E. We haven't finished yet. We must keep up the fight for our paediatric, maternity, SCBU and stroke services. There are many things to do, and we need to get ready to challenge the next phase in downgrading our hospital.
It is our hospital, our workplace and our NHS. We can win, so join with us!
Save South Tyneside Hospital Campaign
I would like to give a very warm welcome to you all from the SSTHC. We have now reached the end of the first consultation after months of fighting to save our vital consultant led children’s A&E, consultant led maternity, SCBU, and hospital stroke services.
Firstly, I would like to thank all of those in the South Tyneside Hospital Campaign, including the MPs who have made such an important contribution to this fight, since we were formed last year. This is now, a truly broad based campaign with people and staff from all levels that have contributed to this fight to save our hospital. It is you that have been involved that have guided this campaign. Both our Chair and I have made our mission to make sure that the large planning meetings attended by 30-40 people every two weeks is where the agenda is set and the decisions taken doing our best to unite people from all walks of life and of differing views and perspectives to make their main priority the fight to save our hospital services. This is something you as a campaign have taken to heart and this is the secret of our success so far.
During the period we encouraged people to raise their concerns about the downgrading of their health services at the consultation meetings organised by the CCG. We have organised two massive SSTHC public meetings in South Shields and Jarrow chaired by our MPs and we have started to organise effectively in Sunderland. In this way we have started to take the discussion on the fight for the right to our local health services right into the heart of our communities and into our hospital with our trade union colleagues there.
This week we produced a 15 page Briefing and Response which we finalised after so much involvement from you all but particularly the clinical staff who were ignored and cut out of the review and options. What we have is a document highlighting the just stand of the campaign, which has informed and helped others to see the wood for the trees in a consultation which has been worse than Teresa Mays strong and stable election campaign.
Now nearly everyone is recognising that most of these options will make our NHS in South Tyneside and Sunderland Less safe and less sustainable and we have drawn this line in the sand that we will never accept such options that have been decided on behind closed doors without clinical involvement and without our involvement and without the investment necessary to meet all the health needs.
The downgrading of these services, the loss of 24/7 children’s A&E, the loss of consultant led maternity, the loss of SCBU and all stroke services will have a massive impact on the availability of quality accessible services in South Tyneside and cause a massive crisis in reduction of the quality of Sunderland services, yet it will not produce any significant financial savings and the financial deficits that the government has created will get far worse even more quickly.
They say they will save at the most 2 million yet they want to cut the budget of both hospitals by 35 million this year alone. How will Sunderland cope how will South Tyneside cope.
In other words the value our health services contribute to the local populations and its economy far out strips the amounts of funding that will be saved by closing them. As was said by one of the councillors The NHS needs to “deliver the right outcomes to local people”.
The right outcomes can only be delivered by listening to our staff and by listening to the people of South Tyneside and Sunderland. What happens now is that we understand they will take a final decision on these options in early 2018. Whilst we also understand that they intend to launch a new consultation on the review of all our other acute services including critical care and our A&E in February 2018.
As Roger said we haven’t finished yet we keep fighting for our paediatrics services, maternity services, Special Care Baby Unit and stroke services there are many things to do and we also need to get ready to take on what they bring on next.
This is our hospital! Our workplace! and our NHS!. We can and will win join with us to save our hospital and NHS.
Keep Our NHS Public North East
I'm from Keep Our NHS Public North East. ...We are a group formed a number of years ago on Tyneside, and we're made up of members of the public and some doctors and nurses, but it's open to everyone, and we meet in the centre of Newcastle. We campaign on the following health issues:
Our group believes that there should be no cuts or cash driven closures of hospital services. We totally agree that services need to be reviewed, obviously there is always room for improvement in our health services, but we are against closures for financial reasons.
We also support a fair pay for all NHS staff. As we know there has been a pay freeze over many years and wages just simply haven't kept up with the cost of living. So this is obviously a national disgrace, and it says much about how the government regards the NHS workforce.
We also campaign hard for a fully funded and publicly owned and publicly provided NHS. Obviously there is massively reduced funding from the government for our health services. It's hard to think in terms of millions and billions of pounds, but please be assured that the funding that we have at the moment has been slashed by the central government like never before. We are also seeing private companies take over and run our health service bit by bit. So be need to ask ourselves, if our NHS a public service or is it there for private profit.
We need to ensure that the NHS is reinstated, and one thing that we can all do is make sure that wherever we come from in the North East that our MP from that area sign up to the NHS bill.
Do you want to know what I really like about the Save South Tyneside Hospital Campaign? There are many things that I like, but I have picked out the top 3.
It's an extremely well organised campaign. The campaign has it's finger on the pulse of health developments in this area. These health developments have been closely tracked by the campaign team. ...This campaign sticks with the facts and it sticks up for what is right.
It's grown from the grass roots. It's completely democratic and it involves the people of South Tyneside, and now also the people of Sunderland at each and every stage. It involves all the people and all the groups. Most importantly this campaign consults with health staff who work in our hospitals. There is a lot of secretary from the CCG and the health authorities but there is complete openness and honesty from the campaign.
It links in with what is happening nationally. I know that members of this campaign are committed to attending our KONP meetings in Newcastle, they're committed ...to attending all the national marches. They're committed to attending the 'Health Campaigns Together' meetings in London. So members of this campaign contribute here in South Tyneside, ...but they also contribute and keep up to date with the national picture.
Finally ...I would like add my sincere thanks to all the hard working staff at South Tyneside hospital and all the NHS departments in this borough. We do value your commitment and hard work. ...When our hospital services are ...criticized we know that the underlying issue is one of underfunding and lack of resources.
From KONP NE and all the other health campaigns in the North East we wish the South Tyneside Campaign all the very best. ...We need everyone's help here today ...[to] win together.