South Tyneside Council's Cabinet has officially responded to the NHS 'Path to Excellence' consultation.
Plans to revise hospital services across Sunderland and South Tyneside have undergone extensive consultation over the summer with councillors from both councils scrutinising the proposals.
Faced with unprecedented financial pressures and workforce and recruitment challenges, South Tyneside and Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) launched a large scale public consultation on proposals to deliver services differently.
Initial proposals, drawn up by South Tyneside and Sunderland Healthcare Group, focus on the future of stroke, obstetrics and gynaecology (including maternity) and emergency care for children.
The proposals seek to deliver sustainable, high quality services at both South Tyneside and Sunderland hospitals.
The Council has the opportunity to contribute to the consultation process to ensure that all aspects of the proposed service changes, and their potential implications for residents, are taken into consideration before final decisions are made by CCGs.
Cllr Moira Smith, who presented the report said: "Against a challenging financial background and workforce difficulties, Trusts across the country are being asked to pool their resources to ensure their services are sustainable in the long term. However, the most important objective is to deliver the right outcomes for local people.
"We have remained resolute that vital services at the hospital should be protected and that is why we are asking the CCG to reconsider the options for maternity services in particular.
"We appreciate that there is a balance that needs to be struck and that in these challenging times difficult decisions need to be made. Our response reflects a realistic expectation of what can be achieved and is in line with the response by UNISON who represents public sector workforces.
"The proposals represent service changes which will have a significant effect on services to South Tyneside residents. We seek to encourage and reflect those views to ensure that residents are provided with the best possible service."
The Council's consultation response is as follows:
Paediatric - Emergency children's services to continue to be provided in South Tyneside during the day. The Council wants assurance that there will be adequate overnight cover for those who present at South Tyneside District Hospital through the Nurse Practitioners and senior suitably skilled A&E Consultants.
Stroke - the acute service centralised at Sunderland to mitigate against senior clinical staffing shortages. However, community rehabilitation must be in place in local areas, particularly South Tyneside so that patients can receive longer term intervention and support in their homes.
Maternity / SCBU - South Tyneside must have access to a Consultant led Maternity Service. Evidence and views presented to date show that without this, patient choice would be restricted and, in the absence of senior medical support and input, the longer-term future may be in question.
The Council's response to the 'Path to Excellence' consultation, together with those of partners, employees, campaigners and residents will be presented to the two CCGs later this year, with a view to them making a decision in respect of these services in 2018.