A consultation to gather public views around the different ways some aspects of NHS hospital services could be arranged in South Tyneside and Sunderland will start in July 2017.
Called ‘The Path to Excellence’, the public consultation will run for 14-and-a-half weeks from Wednesday 5 July until Sunday 15 October, and will focus particularly on areas of hospital care which are delivered at South Tyneside District Hospital and Sunderland Royal Hospital including:
- Stroke services, specifically hospital (acute) care and hospital-based rehabilitation services
- Maternity services (obstetrics), covering hospital-based birthing facilities i.e. where you would give birth to your baby and special care baby units
- Women’s services (gynaecology), covering inpatient surgery where you would need an overnight hospital stay
- Children and young people’s (paediatrics, urgent and emergency) services
This period of consultation will include a series of public events and a range of ways for local people to get involved, find out more about the issues under consideration and to give their views.
Dr Shaz Wahid, Medical Director for South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust, said this was an exciting time for the NHS in South Tyneside and Sunderland as the consultation provides the opportunity to make big improvements to hospital services and patient care.
Dr Wahid said: “We want to explain the current challenges we have around how these services are being delivered at the moment, and present some proposals on the different ways our clinical teams think some services could be delivered in the future.
“We will share the information we’ve used to come up with our proposals, for example, the best practice clinical evidence from the Royal Colleges, feedback from patient experiences and engagement, to name but a few.”
Dr Matthew Walmsey, a local GP and Chair of NHS South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said the consultation had been planned to allow local people lots of opportunities to get involved in the discussions.
He said: “We want people to understand that we have clinical issues driving these proposals and any future changes to the way services are organised would only be made in order to improve the quality and safety of those services for the future.
“Any changes need to make the best use of our most important resource – our clinical staff – so we can meet the healthcare needs of our patients both now and in the future.”
There will be a number of ways local people can get involved including public question and answer session, discussion events and opportunities to look at particular service proposals in detail, as well as a paper and online survey.
Information will be published on the Path to Excellence programme website, including an independent travel impact review, current hospital service quality indicators and information about resources and finances.
Ian Martin, Medical Director for City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, said he understood that local people might be concerned when they hear of the need to make some changes to the way some local services are provided, and urged people to find out more before forming an opinion.
He said: “We really hope that local people will take the opportunity to listen to the issues and think about the challenges we face locally and tell us how these potential changes may affect them or if they have ideas on how the proposals could be improved.”
Dr Ian Pattison, a local GP and Chair of NHS Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “This is a very important opportunity for local people to hear directly from their own local doctors, nurses and therapists who are working in these services and understand the problems we face due to the way these particular services are currently arranged and how we think we can improve them.
“People care passionately about our NHS and we all have that in common. I hope that we can discuss these often complex issues together so we can make improvements that will have a real and lasting positive impact on people’s health outcomes.”
The proposals will be published on the programme website on Wednesday 5 July – the first day of the public consultation – and local clinical leaders will present them at a series of planned public events.
Feedback from the public will be analysed into themes and publicly reported to ensure it influences the final decisions, which will be made by the two CCGs later in the year.
The Path to Excellence programme is led by a partnership of local NHS organisations including NHS South Tyneside CCG, NHS Sunderland CCG, South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust and City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust – working together as the South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Partnership.
Between them, they are responsible for commissioning (planning, choosing and buying) and delivering many of the major healthcare services across the area, including the healthcare services we talk about improving in these public consultation proposals.