The outcome of a judicial review appeal has supported NHS decision making about positive changes to vulnerable hospital services including stroke, obstetrics (maternity) and gynaecology and paediatrics (children’s) urgent care. These services faced the most severe workforce sustainability challenges, driven predominantly by a shortage of medical staff resulting in service continuity, quality and financial pressures.
A judicial review hearing took place in December 2018 which challenged the decision of NHS South Tyneside and Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Groups in relation to phase one Path to Excellence service changes at South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust.
The challenge was brought on behalf of the Save South Tyneside Hospital Campaign Group. The judgement showed, very clearly, that the judge supported the CCGs decisions for phase one of the Path to Excellence programme and found the public consultation in 2017 to be a fair and lawful process.
A subsequent appeal was held in December 2019 and the judgement was handed down by the Court of Appeal on 28th January 2020, which has supported the original judgement, acknowledging that “at each stage there was genuine engagement with the public”.
The judgment clarified that the NHS can only consult only on viable options for change. Appellants also sought permission to appeal to the Supreme Court, and this was refused by the Court of Appeal.
Through out the Path to Excellence process these changes have been about doing what is right for patients and protecting vulnerable hospital services which are much safer and more sustainable since implementing all the changes at the start of August 2019.
In January 2020, over 100 babies have been born in South Tyneside since the summer 2019 when the new birthing centre opened, and there is better care and outcomes for people who suffer a stroke as a direct consequence to the changes that have made.
This means that more people in South Tyneside and Sunderland are surviving a stroke and less people are suffering lifelong disability because of the improvements made in stroke services.
The NHS Path to Excellence partners can now finally conclude what has been a lengthy legal process and, most importantly, thank the hardworking fantastic clinical teams without whom there would not be the excellent care provided to local patients.
We look forward to continuing to keep all stakeholders fully updated as work progresses on Phase Two of the programme. Keep up to date via www.pathtoexcellence.org.uk
Matt Brown, director at NHS South Tyneside CCG, speaking on behalf of both South Tyneside and Sunderland CCGs, said: “We are pleased that the Court of Appeal supported the original judgement, acknowledging that “at each stage there was genuine engagement with the public”, and have clarified that the NHS can only consult only on viable options for change.
“Through out we have always said that these changes are about doing what is right for our patients and protecting vulnerable hospital services which are much safer and more sustainable since implemented all the changes at the start of August 2019. This week we are celebrating 100 babies who’ve been born in South Tyneside since the summer, and we continue to see better care and outcomes for people who suffer a stroke as a direct consequence to the changes we have made.
We can now finally conclude what has been a lengthy legal process and most importantly we’d like to thank our hardworking fantastic clinical teams without whom we would not have the excellent care they provide to their patients.”