The downgrading of South Tyneside Hospital was announced as part of the “alliance” between South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust (STFT) and City Hospitals Sunderland (CHS). The resulting loss of acute services will be a disaster for the people of South Tyneside and also for the people of Sunderland whose access to acute services will also be under pressure by the closure of acute services in South Tyneside.
The “alliance” plans to move all acute services from South Tyneside to Sunderland, which will make South Tyneside Hospital A&E unsustainable. The immediate threat of this “alliance” is the loss of acute stroke services and maternity in South Tyneside. The government is behind an NHS England plan to reduce more than 10 A&Es in the North East down to 4 or 5. The aim of this plan is likely to leave people in South Tyneside with essentially a rehabilitation hospital, and everyone needing acute health care will have to travel to Sunderland or Newcastle.
The downgrading of South Tyneside Hospital is fundamentally a result of the whole direction in which the government is taking the NHS. It is deliberately reducing NHS funding both for front-line health services and other human resource needs. This process is wrecking the NHS by fragmenting it into purchasers and providers, closing acute hospitals and A&E departments. It is facilitating the takeover of the most profitable services by private health companies. This continued direction is reflected in the merger between STFT and CHS with the aim of closing acute services at South Tyneside Hospital.
- We demand that the government, NHS England, South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group and South Tyneside Health & Well-being Board stop any plans to close acute services at South Tyneside District Hospital and to safeguard its A&E service.
- We demand the restoration of the duty of government to provide a comprehensive health service across England to all communities, ensuring the resources that are required and the training of doctors and consultants required for all acute and community services.
- We demand the reverse of 25 years of marketisation in the NHS, the abolition of the purchaser-provider split, an end to contracting, and the creation of public bodies and public services accountable to local communities.