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Hospital Decisions Under Scrutiny

Councillors are to demand answers into the temporary suspension of births at South Tyneside District Hospital.

A meeting of the Joint Health Scrutiny Committee, made up of both South Tyneside and Sunderland councillors, will be held next week to discuss the issues.

The decision follows the temporary suspension last week of the hospital's Special Care Baby Unit and the decision this week to pause all births at the hospital until the New Year.

Councillor Rob Dix, Chair of the Joint Health Scrutiny Committee, said: "We were not aware that there were such immediate staffing pressures at the Special Care Baby Unit and maternity and the sudden nature of these service suspensions has come as a surprise.

"While we are mindful that the safety of women and babies must take priority over everything else, the service suspension raises questions about how we came to this position so abruptly.

"Our residents are understandably very anxious about the current situation. While we do not provide the services at the hospital, we will be doing all we can to scrutinise the clinical decision with the hospital and the CCG and the events leading up to this."

Earlier this year South Tyneside Council's Cabinet called for the CCG to retain access to a Consultant-led Maternity Service as part of its official response to the NHS 'Path to Excellence' consultation. They claimed that failure to do so would restrict patient choice.

Councillor Tracey Dixon, Lead Member for Independence and Wellbeing, said: "We recognise that these decisions have been made in light of shortages of specialist staff, which is a national problem. However, we will also be asking how this situation has reached this critical level which has led to the sudden suspension of these valuable services.

"We will be calling for answers as a matter of urgency both now and in the future. Going forward we will expect the CCG to bring forward solutions to address the viability of services in the long term."


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