Workers' Weekly On-Line
Volume 51 Number 19, June 19, 2021 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

Safeguarding the Future of the Health Service

Petition No to the Downgrading of South Tyneside Hospital Presented to Parliament

SSTHC campaigners handing over the long running petition to their local
MPs on College Green, with the Westminster Parliament in the background

On June 9, a deputation of 16 people from South Tyneside and Sunderland travelled to London to hand over a petition signed by some 44,000 people to be presented that day to the House of Commons.

The petition was launched in 2016 over concerns over the downgrading of the South Tyneside Hospital through what was claimed as a "Path to Excellence". Since then this "Path to Excellence" has already led to the loss of full maternity services, 24-hour children's A&E, the Special Care Baby Unit and the hospital stroke rehabilitation ward. Presenting the petition has highlighted that these closures of vital services must be halted and the government-driven programme of cuts and privatisation of health services reversed.

As the petition shows, these closures have not been agreed by the people of South Tyneside or Sunderland, and they are not in their name. Healthcare is a right in a modern society and it is the people of South Tyneside who must decide on the hospital services that should be provided. The Save South Tyneside Hospital Campaign points out that there is a need to retain access to vital coronary care, ITU and other acute services at South Tyneside District Hospital. There is a need to retain a full trauma A&E, along with other vital services such as a full maternity service, and a 24-hour consultant-led children's A&E.

The petition was handed over by the delegation on College Green, opposite the Houses of Parliament, to Emma Lewell-Buck, MP for South Shields, as well as Kate Osborne MP for Jarrow, and Sharon Hodgson MP for Washington & Sunderland West. The petition was then presented to the House of Commons shortly after 7.00pm by Emma Lewell-Buck. The MP had also called on the Prime Minister to say no to the downgrading of South Tyneside Hospital during Prime Minister's Questions earlier that same day.

The presenting of the petition signed by 44,000 people is a tremendous achievement by the Campaign and the people of South Tyneside and Sunderland. Not only has the five-year-long campaign received the warm support of the tens of thousands of people who gave their signatures, but it represents the people of the North East raising their concerns right at the heart of government so as to educate Members of Parliament on these important concerns of the people and the issues involved in the plans known as the "Path to Excellence", as well as of the direction that neo-liberalism is taking the whole of the NHS. The people of South Tyneside and Sunderland have spoken, and Workers' Weekly warmly congratulates them on their stand.

Petition - South Tyneside Hospital - in the House of Commons at 7:08 pm on June 9, 2021

Emma Lewell-Buck (Labour, South Shields)

I rise to present a petition about South Tyneside Hospital on behalf of 44,000 of my constituents in South Shields.

The petition states:

The petition of residents of the constituency of South Shields,

Declares that the downgrading of South Tyneside Hospital announced in the "alliance" between South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust (STFT) and City Hospitals Sunderland (CHS) with loss of acute services will be a disaster for the people of South Tyneside and the people of Sunderland;

further that the removal of all acute services to Sunderland will make the Sunderland A&E unsustainable and will mean that people from South Tyneside will have to travel to Sunderland or Newcastle;

further that the immediate threat of this "alliance" is the loss of acute stroke and maternity services;

further that the decision to downgrade South Tyneside Hospital demonstrates that the Government's direction with the NHS is to reduce its funding and damage it through its fragmentation into purchasers and providers, closure of acute hospitals and A&E Departments, cut-backs and the takeover of the most profitable services by private health companies;

further that the Government has a duty to provide a comprehensive health service across England to all communities;

and further that access to healthcare is a right of all in a modern society and we demand that it be guaranteed.

The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urge the Government to work with NHS England, South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust, South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group and South Tyneside Health & Well-being Board to stop any plans to close acute services at South Tyneside District Hospital and to safeguard its Accident and Emergency Service.

And the petitioners remain, etc.


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