Friday 8th December 2017
Mass Lunchtime Protest for the Reinstatement of Full Maternity Services
Midwives from South Tyneside Hospital with their banner
On Friday December 8 2017, some 200 midwives, staff and people from the community gathered for an angry protest outside the Harton Road entrance to South Tyneside Hospital to call for the immediate reinstatement of our special care baby unit (SCBU) and full obstetric-led maternity.
The SCBU - which has not been cared for itself by the new executive team from Sunderland since it took over last year - was shut down due to a member of staff falling sick at work. Instead of sorting the problem out and using other maternity staff and paediatric staff to cover the unit after closing for one night, the executive team have seized on the chance to close the unit for six weeks. This not only has closed the SCBU, but has now been used as an excuse to close all maternity services at South Tyneside District Hospital until the new year. This does not create the safe and sustainable services that the executive team speak about. This is another attempt pre-empt the outcome of the "consultation" and further downgrade by wrecking the existing services. It was also stated that the South Tyneside maternity unit has been one of the best staffed in the northern region for many years, and has had a performance which is amongst the best in the country, yet the executive team were responsible for bringing the service to its knees. They can not be trusted.
Support was given by Emma Lewell-Buck MP (South Shields), who spoke at the protest. Amongst others who spoke were Marion Langley (Staff Side Chair and Unison Branch Secretary) and Clare Williams (Regional Secretary of Unison).
The protest got behind all those trying to ensure the re-instatement of the SCBU and full consultant-led maternity services. Whilst the campaign had previously raised awareness of threats to children's 24 hour consultant-led A&E, this protest helps to put threats to SBCU and maternity services into the spotlight for the people of South Tyneside.
Friday 1st December 2017
Emergency protest against sudden SCBU and maternity service closure at South Tyneside Hospital
Outside the Executive team headquarters, Chester Road, Sunderland Royal
People contacting us have been shocked and angered on the latest announcement to “temporarily pause” in the delivery of babies at South Tyneside maternity unit. This follows closely on the previous shock announcement two days before to “temporarily” close the Special Care Baby Unit. We have been contacted also by many of the staff who are equally angered by this decision.
Roger Nettleship Chair of SSTHC said:
“This has really shocked and angered everyone. Here is a Sunderland based Executive team that has come in with all its pretensions of a 'path to excellence', yet there is nothing excellent in the way they are managing the erosion of our hospital services in South Tyneside. There is nothing 'safe and sustainable' about what they are doing to one of the best performing Maternity services in the country and what about the massive stress they are creating for the 165 mums-to-be over the next few weeks. This is crisis management and crisis driven wrecking of our acute hospitals. We have a right to these health services and they should be guaranteed. We understand high sickness levels were the specific cause of the closure of SCBU. But yet again, if the Trust leaders had involved and listened to the nursing and midwifery clinical staff at our hospital both the Special Care Baby Unit and our maternity services would not have closed. We know that if they listen to and involve the staff now they can re-open the service with immediate effect. This is the wonderful commitment that our clinicians, nursing and midwifery have and are the real safety and sustainability of our health services”