As our campaign has gathered momentum we have had support from our two local MPs: Emma Lewell-Buck (South Shields) and Stephen Hepburn (Jarrow). We have had support from some local councillors and we thank them very much indeed. Most councillors are sincere and dedicated people, but many are not proactive in fighting to save our health services. 3 years and 3 months into our campaign, it is still helpful to give our local representatives reasons to make fighting for our health services a regular part of their work.
Please prioritise writing to your local councillors. There is some basic guidance further down the page on what to write to help you get started, as well as links to a reliable, free and trusted web service called Write To Them - designed to help people contact their representatives. The South Tyneside Council website also makes it easy for you to find out who your councillors are. For your convenience, the current list of wards and councillors in South Tyneside is below:
We also encourage you to talk to your councillors in person if you can, most of them hold regular surgeries. If surgery times are not shown on the council website, then all you need to do is to send your councillors an email asking for their surgery times.
It does make a difference!
Some of the health service changes at a local level can't proceed without the backing of local councils. So in addition to representing you, councillors have various roles within the council. Some sit on committees, such as the Joint Health Scrutiny Committee, which on the 9th of March 2018, acted in the interests of the people of South Tyneside and Sunderland and referred the downgrading of our acute services (in phase-1 of the Path to Excellence) to the Secretary of State for Health. This also coincided with the start of a legal challenge that our campaign has mounted against the validity of the phase-1 consultation process.
In May 2019 Ken Bremner (CEO of South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust) announced that the Trust is seeking £50-million in funding from our local councils (£35-million from South Tyneside Council and £15-million from Sunderland Council) in order to finance the capital transformation of phase-2 of the “Path to Excellence”. Our councils should not be involved with financing -- or supporting in any way -- the “Path to Excellence” programme of cuts and closures to vital acute hospital services. Where a similar situation arose in West London, the Ealing and Hammersmith Council refused to support “Shaping a Healthier Future”, thereby halting that programme of cuts and closures.
When you raise your concerns about the closure of our health services with your councillors, and if you personalise those concerns (perhaps by explaining how difficult it will be for you to travel outside of South Tyneside for treatment), you give some power to their elbow. Remember that councillors are ordinary people. They may not be aware of just how harmful and difficult to undo the loss of these services will be, and like many people they may not understand the complex structural changes transforming the nature of health care in England.
Please personalise your message as it will have more of an impact. Your message does not need to be long, just a few sentences is fine. The following is a list of key points that you might like to include and edit:
- Dear Councillor ...
- The merger between South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust and City Hospitals Sunderland is part of a plan to drastically reduce hospital services throughout South Tyneside.
- South Tyneside Hospital is facing the loss of acute stroke (which was in fact closed 'temporarily' ahead of the so called consultation), 24/7 children's services and maternity services.
- Local Trust and CCG executives plan to move all acute services to Sunderland, which will mean that South Tyneside Hospital A&E will become non-viable.
- Everyone needing acute health care will have to travel to Sunderland.
- I strongly oppose South Tyneside Council being involved in financing, or supporting in any way, the downgrading and loss of vital emergency services, acute services and hospital beds at South Tyneside Hospital. Doing so will embroil the council in the plans to downgrade the hospital and effectively split local councillors from the people they represent.
- I am concerned about the whole direction in which the NHS is being taken. It is being deliberately and systematically wrecked by fragmentation into purchasers and providers, cut backs and privatisation.
- Please use your position [in parliament / as an elected representative] to safeguard the future of South Tyneside Hospital and its acute emergency services.
The link below will take you to a free service designed to help people write to their public representatives. Entering your postcode will enable the service to find your MP or Councillors: