In this section we set out why hospital services in South Tyneside and Sunderland need to change.
Given the significant challenges currently facing the NHS, there are many compelling reasons why we need to change:
Our workforce is under significant pressure and on a daily basis we rely on the goodwill of our staff working longer hours or extra shifts – this has a negative impact on their health and wellbeing and is not sustainable. We also rely heavily on temporary staff to keep services running safely.
This is not only extremely expensive but it is also not good for the continuity of high quality patient care. The current set up of our services also makes it difficult for us to attract staff who want to work as part of bigger teams.
The pressure on our workforce is directly linked to the significant and growing demand on the NHS as a whole. More people than ever before are now accessing services and being successfully treated thanks to advances in medicine and technology.
This means more people can now survive serious illness or injury and can live longer with health conditions such as asthma, diabetes and even cancer.
All of this means demand on our NHS will grow even further in the years ahead.
The way our services are currently set up makes it really difficult for us to meet a number of important clinical quality and safety standards.
For example, we are currently unable to consistently ensure that all emergency patients receive a timely consultant review and we do not have consistent availability of senior clinical decision makers seven days a week – something which we know is proven to have a positive impact on patient outcomes.
Individually, our populations and teams are small, but together we can create the vital critical mass of patients needed to develop more specialised care and meet more of these important clinical quality and safety standards.
Our services currently cost more to deliver than the funding we have available and we need to make changes to help improve our long-term financial sustainability.
Our emergency care and acute medicine services make an annual loss of millions of pounds and we currently have to spend millions on agency staff in this clinical service area alone.
This over-reliance on temporary staff is not only financially unsustainable, it also limits our ability to make quality improvements to patient care.
We cannot ignore the challenges facing the NHS which is why we are working together across the whole health and care system to plan for the future.