• Sunderland and South Tyneside CCGs decide future of hospital based stroke, maternity, gynaecology and paediatric services
  • Many will be transferred to Sunderland Royal Hospital from South Tyneside District Hospital
  • Services at South Tyneside will be closed or downgraded

Commissioners in the North East have approved plans to shift a range of hospital based services from South Tyneside to Sunderland.

Sunderland and South Tyneside clinical commissioning groups have decided to centralise hospital based stroke, maternity, gynaecology and paediatric services at Sunderland Royal Hospital, run by City Hospitals Sunderland Foundation Trust.

The decision was made at a joint extraordinary governing body meeting of both CCGs on Wednesday, and will see those services at South Tyneside District Hospital, run by South Tyneside FT, closed or downgraded.

The CCGs agreed to:

  • Combine all hyper-acute and acute stroke care at Sunderland Royal Hospital with patients from both areas to receive hospital based rehabilitation at the same site.
  • Retain a consultant led maternity unit at Sunderland and develop a midwife led unit at South Tyneside for low risk births.
  • Provide inpatient gynaecology surgery at Sunderland with day cases and outpatients at both sites.
  • Provide a single special care baby unit at Sunderland.
  • Develop a 14 hour a day, nurse led paediatric minor injuries and illnesses service at South Tyneside and a 24/7 paediatric emergency department in Sunderland.

However, due to the length of time it will take to implement the changes in paediatric care, the CCGs agreed to a transitionary 8am-10pm paediatric emergency department at South Tyneside.

The decision follows a consultation into the future of the services, which launched in July last year after a clinical review of the four services.

Sunderland Royal Hospital

City Hospitals Sunderland and South Tyneside FTs are exploring the possibility of a merger

The overhaul aims to tackle the recruitment challenges, inability to hit clinical standards, difficulty meeting national guidelines and reduce the bill for locum doctors

Acute stroke services have been centralised at City Hospitals Sunderland since December 2016.

South Tyneside CCG chief executive David Hambleton said last July further clinical reviews were planned over the coming months, which could see services centralised at South Tyneside. He said while there were no plans to make Sunderland Royal a “hot site” and South Tyneside a “cold site”, it was a long term option.

The Next Steps document published by NHS England in March pledged to support sustainability and transformation partnerships that sought to split “hot” emergency and urgent care from “cold” planned surgery facilities to allow more efficient bed use.

A further clinical review will begin in the coming months investigating a range of services, including general surgery and acute medicine.

The reconfiguration builds on the integration of governance at the two trusts. Ken Bremner was appointed chief executive of both trusts in September and a joint board has been in place since November.

Mr Bremner said yesterday: “Once again I want to be absolutely clear, as I have been throughout this process, that our hospitals in both South Tyneside and Sunderland will both continue to play vital roles in the future and I remain more confident than ever that by working together we can secure better care and outcomes from services that are safer and more sustainable for our patients, staff and local communities.”

Although both trusts initially said they would not be merging, the pair announced in January they are exploring the possibility of a merger.