Local NHS leaders have published a key document to explain why local hospital services in South Tyneside and Sunderland must continue to transform in order to meet the future needs of patients and offer the best possible care for local people.
Phase two of the Path to Excellence programme is the final part of the NHS transformation of local hospital services which began in 2016 and will involve the following key areas of hospital-based care:
- Emergency care and acute medicine
- Emergency surgery
- Planned care (including surgery and outpatients)
Path to Excellence involves NHS partners* working together to plan for the future and identify new and innovative ways of delivering high quality, joined-up, sustainable hospital services that will further improve the quality of care and patient outcomes for local people.
Hundreds of hospital staff and local patients with experiences of using hospital services have already contributed their views to help form the ‘draft case for change’ document published this week, which sets out the ‘tidal wave of pressures’ facing the local NHS and why services must change and evolve to meet these challenges.
Within the draft case for change, leaders of all four NHS partner organisations are absolutely clear that both South Tyneside District Hospital and Sunderland Royal Hospital will continue to exist in the future and both will continue to play pivotal roles caring for local people. They stress, however, that changes are needed so that both hospitals can work much more effectively together to serve the populations of South Tyneside and Sunderland.
Whilst local hospital services already provide an abundance of great care from highly committed teams of NHS staff, phase two of Path to Excellence aims to build on these strengths and successes by creating bigger, stronger and more resilient clinical and nursing teams working together across both hospitals.
The publication of the draft case for change marks the start of wider stakeholder and public engagement activity that will take place over the coming weeks and months and will be widely advertised to help patients and the public understand why hospital services must change.
Consultants, doctors, nurses and other vital clinical support staff in both hospitals recognise the challenges being faced and are already working together to create a shared vision and develop ideas about how key services could be delivered jointly in the future across both hospitals. These emerging ideas for change will be shared over the autumn and winter months with staff, stakeholders, as well as patients and the public, as the local NHS seeks feedback in order to create the best possible hospital services for the future.
Dr Mickey Jachuck, Consultant Cardiologist and Clinical Director for Emergency Care and Medicine at South Tyneside District Hospital said: “Despite the challenges we are setting out, we are extremely ambitious and working together with colleagues in Sunderland we share the same vision to create the best possible services for the future.
“By creating larger clinical teams across both sites we believe this will greatly improve our workforce resilience and allow us to improve quality by creating joined-up services for our combined local populations. It also means we can build a model which is fit for the future and more likely to help us attract more key clinical staff to join us permanently. This will be critical in helping us to reduce our overreliance on temporary locum staff which is not only extremely expensive, but limits our ability to make quality improvements to patient care. We must think innovatively about how we maximise our resources and the funding we have available.
“We hope the draft case for change helps people begin to understand the difficult issues we are grappling with. As clinical and nursing teams we are already working very closely together across both hospitals to think about how we may be able to solve these challenges and we look forward to sharing our emerging ideas later in the year.”
Dr Kevin Joisce, Consultant in Emergency Medicine at Sunderland Royal Hospital said: “The draft case for change sets out a range of issues we have identified from our engagement to date, it explains that no change is not an option and why we cannot stay as we are if we want to keep providing high quality patient care – this is our driving force for change.
“Across both hospitals we face significant pressures within our workforce with daily challenges to ensure all of our wards and departments are staffed to a consistently safe level. We also know that whilst we do perform well, there is too much unacceptable variation between both hospitals and areas where quality improvements are needed. As clinical teams across both sites, we recognise that we can only do this by working together and maximising the expertise of our dedicated teams of staff.”
Dr Matthew Walmsley, local South Tyneside GP and chair of NHS South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said: “This is a very important document as it describes how phase two of Path to Excellence is just one small part of the need to transform all care locally.
“We know the general public perception is that hospitals provide the majority of NHS care, but the reality is that the majority of NHS care takes place in local communities and this is something we want to expand further. We also know more needs to be done to improve the health and wellbeing of the population with a focus on preventing people becoming unwell in the first place.
“The Path to Excellence work on hospital transformation is really just one small part of the puzzle and over the coming year we look forward to sharing our collective ambitions about how we can also transform care outside of hospital and help support our communities to stay fit and well.”
Dr Ian Pattison, local Sunderland GP and chair of NHS Sunderland CCG said: “This is a very welcome and detailed document which aims to help people understand the pressures our hospitals are facing but also our shared ambitions to improve so that we can consistently deliver the very highest quality of patient care.
“Over the past 70 years, new drugs and advances in medical technology mean more people live longer, survive serious illness or injury and can effectively manage multiple long-term conditions. Whilst this is very welcome, it also adds further demand on local NHS services which means we must continue to work more effectively, across organisational boundaries and the populations we serve, to make sure we prepare and adapt our NHS services for the next 70 years.
“We very much look forward to talking to more people over the coming months about the draft case for change document and how we can all work together to ensure the best possible future for our local hospital services. I hope as many people as possible who care about local NHS services take the time to read it.”