Workers' Weekly On-Line
Volume 49 Number 1, January 26, 2019 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

Empowering the People to Take a Pro-Social Direction for Society

SSTHC New Year Statement: Going into 2019 and Where We Are

Save South Tyneside Hospital Campaign

As we go into 2019, the Save South Tyneside Hospital Campaign (SSTHC) would like to congratulate the people of South Tyneside, staff and clinicians at the hospital who have and are continuing to oppose the downgrading of our vital acute health services at our District General Hospital.

So far, this fight to save our services has focused on the high-performing vital Children's 24-hour A&E, one of the best full maternity services and Special Care Baby Units and for the restoration of stroke rehabilitation services at the hospital. These services are being downgraded as part of government's plan for the NHS in England.

We noted that it was very significant that on Monday, January 7, Theresa May revealed in her government's statement the long-term transformation plans for the NHS dressed up as "more funding". She had asked the NHS to draw up a long-term plan, one that is "clinically led and locally supported" with an "absolute focus on cutting waste".

Her statement shows that the focus of the NHS plan is not more funding for existing vital services but is more about ruthless cuts to existing NHS acute and community services with a "long-term plan" of a digitalised NHS and bed-less Emergency departments, where people are expected to fend for themselves in their own homes. Our experience of fighting against this so-called "path to excellence" and to save our hospital services shows that this is a path that certainly hasn't got "local support" as Theresa May claims, because people know it is jeopardising vital acute services that they need to have access to at their District Hospitals.

Over the last two years, not only has the SSTHC launched its petition which now stands at 40,000 against the direction of this plan, but the people have held five mass demonstrations and three large public meetings in South Tyneside. Last May, the matter was referred to the Secretary of State by the Joint South Tyneside and Sunderland Council Scrutiny Committee because they challenged the validity of consultation and said the plans were not in the best interests of the people of South Tyneside. This referral was unsurprisingly rejected by a government that is initiating these plans. Following that, the SSTHC in December 2018 took the case challenging the unlawful nature of the consultation to a High Court Judicial Review in Leeds, funded by local people of South Tyneside and Sunderland. So far, our legal challenge was unsuccessful, but the government and Theresa May and NHS England cannot pretend that the public are behind the so-called "path to excellence".

At this time, the SSTHC is considering its options to continue the fight to save our hospital services. When we receive the full judgement of the Judicial Review on the Phase 1 consultation, we will consider it along with our legal team and we have not ruled out an appeal.

We are also considering what now needs to be done so that the people of South Tyneside can make their claim to decide the future of their local hospital services. In order to oppose further downgrading of services in the next Phase we have also given our evidence to the South Tyneside and Sunderland CCG "Listening panel" and have given our views on the evaluation criteria to them in evaluating our services. These views are on our website. We will continue to provide further information on the progress of our campaign as the year unfolds.

For further information on this significant campaign, see issues of Workers' Weekly Internet Editionfrom 2018:


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