Workers' Weekly On-Line
Volume 51 Number 18, June 5, 2021 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

Safeguarding the Future of the Health Service

Save South Tyneside Hospital Campaign petition
No to Downgrading of South Tyneside Hospital to be presented to Parliament

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Outside Parliament at a national march and rally for the NHS in March 2017

The people of South Tyneside are taking their fight to Westminster to save their vital hospital services. On Wednesday, June 9, a deputation of 17 people from South Tyneside and Sunderland are travelling to London to hand in to Parliament the petition signed by 44,000 in the region against the downgrading and privatisation of hospital services.

Those in power are using the present crisis to further downgrade and privatise the NHS. In South Tyneside, it is planned to downgrade Children's A&E from a consultant-led service by August 2021. This is alongside existing plans to downgrade A&E that was outlined in 2019 by the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). Children and adults will be put at further risk. The South Tyneside and Sunderland Foundation Trust has already announced prior to any consultation that from next year those requiring any emergency surgery will all have to travel to Sunderland. Next year the Trust also has plans to move all other acute services away from South Tyneside, including coronary care, ITU and other vital acute services. How good is a "wonderful" Surgery Centre if the 150,000-plus people of South Tyneside cannot access vital emergency services locally? The A&E will be downgraded to an "Urgent Care Centre" and privatised. The CCG has already indicated that the contract will go to Vocare, a subsidiary of Totally PLC.

Roger Nettleship, Chair of the Save South Tyneside Hospital Campaign, said: "The petition was launched in 2016 over the concerns to downgrade our hospital through what was claimed as a 'path to excellence' which has already led to the loss of full maternity services, 24-hour Children's A&E and hospital stroke rehabilitation services. These closures of our vital services are going to continue in this government-driven programme of cuts and privatisation of our health 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. Health care 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."

One of the many regular campaign stalls with the petition

Emma Lewell-Buck, MP for South Shields, said: "I am pleased to be welcoming the Save South Tyneside Hospital Campaign to Westminster and am honoured to be able to hand in their petition signed by tens of thousands of supporters. For a number of years now I have seen the hospital where I was born slowly stripped of vital services, one after another. Like many of my constituents and the wider community, I have supported and fought alongside the Save South Tyneside Hospital Campaign to oppose these cuts and the further downgrading of my local hospital. The last year has shown that our NHS is needed more than ever. However, in the hands of the Tories its very future is uncertain. The government must step in and show they are serious about protecting the NHS and listen to my constituents and stop more cuts to South Tyneside Hospital and return the services we have already lost."

Kate Osborne, MP for Jarrow, said: "Since 2010, our NHS services have been starved of funds by the biggest financial squeeze in NHS history by this Conservative Government. This simply cannot be allowed to continue.

"In South Tyneside, the downgrading of our local hospital services is well underway following the loss of services such as stroke, consultant-led maternity, 24/7 paediatrics and our Special Care Baby Unit. Later this year there are plans to downgrade our children's A&E from a consultant-led service alongside existing plans to downgrade our A&E, resulting in patients having to travel to Sunderland for all emergency surgery. This simply cannot be allowed to happen, and I will always stand up and fight for our NHS's future. If we stand by and let this continue, then our hospital, along with many more across the country, will become another casualty of this Tory Government's relentless drive towards full privatisation of our NHS. I can't speak highly enough of the work that is led by Roger Nettleship, Gemma Taylor, and all of the campaigners involved with the Save South Tyneside Hospital Campaign, and I look forward to welcoming their delegation to Westminster to offer my whole-hearted support."

The petition, No to Downgrading of South Tyneside Hospital, will be formally handed over to Emma Lewell-Buck MP on June 9 at 1pm (train delays permitting) on Parliament Green prior to its presentation in Parliament. MP for Jarrow Kate Osborne will also welcome the delegation to Westminster.

Details of the online petition can be accessed here:

(Save South Tyneside Hospital Campaign Press Statement, June 3, 2021)


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