Path to Excellence
Last Updated: March, 2019

The Path to Excellence is the name that the South Tyneside and Sunderland  Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs)  have given to their plan to downgrade and close hospital services. The Path to Excellence is a plan for  Efficiency Savings , and is one Pillar of what the CCGs are calling their Three Pillars of Transformation.

Along with the other two pillars  Integration  and  Prevention , the Three Pillars of Transformation aim to fundamentally change our local health services in-line with the latest overarching plan for NHS  privatisation  called the  NHS Long Term Plan .

The Path to Excellence has wide ranging implications for health services throughout the borough, but it is focussed on the downgrading and closure of acute services at South Tyneside hospital. That process has been broken into two phases:

Phase 1

Phase-1 was primarily concerned with downgrading stroke, maternity, gynaecology, and 24/7 children's emergency services at South Tyneside district hospital. In 2017 South Tyneside CCG conducted a public consultation on these plans. The stoke unit was closed prior to the consultation, and attempts to close maternity were made at the end of 2017 (but resistance from the staff gave the maternity service a reprieve). The consultation, which gave no options to retain our vital services, was challenged on grounds of its validity in a high court judicial review. This was a landmark case that would have set a legal precedent. The judge ruled in favour of the CCG, but has delayed (for several months) the formality of handing down the judgement, and in turn this delays the start of any potential appeal of the ruling.

Phase 2

The CCG has pushed ahead with plans for phase-2, which is concerned with the downgrading and closure of the Accident & Emergency department of South Tyneside hospital. In 2018 the CCGs began developing what they call working ideas, to be developed into options for a public consultation in 2019.

  • The working ideas comprise three proposals, which amount to a choice between minimum, some and maximum levels of A&E downgrading.
  • All three options remove emergency surgery from South Tyneside district hospital. This makes the A&E effectively non-viable as life-threatening emergencies will have to be dealt with at Sunderland.
  • The option for maximum downgrading is clearly favoured.
  • The favoured option will also restrict attendance at the hospital for minor injuries.
  • Issues relating to transport and accessibility raised in phase-1 have still not been addressed.