Commissioning

22.08.18

CCGs taken to High Court for ‘potentially disastrous’ and ‘flawed’ service transfer plans

Campaigners have been given the go-ahead to pursue a legal challenge against plans to transfer services between CCGs in the South Tyneside area.

Lawyers representing campaigners opposed to the plans had previously written to NHS South Tyneside CCG calling on the body to overturn the decision to move stroke, paediatric, maternity, and women’s healthcare services away from the commissioning group— with all acute stroke services to be based in Sunderland from 2019.

The decision to move services away from South Tyneside was supported by NHS Sunderland CCG when proposals were made in February— but campaigners have dubbed the move a “potential disaster.”

According to the Save South Tyneside Hospital Campaign Group website, campaigners believe the downgrading of South Tyneside was “fundamentally a result of the whole direction in which the government is taking the NHS.”

Now, the case has been given the green light for the lawyers— acting on behalf of the campaign group—to take the CCGs to the High Court after they refused to reverse their decision.

Giving his decision, Judge Saffman said he believed the campaigners’ case was “sufficiently arguable” to justify the granting of permission.

Roger Nettleship, a spokesperson for the Save South Tyneside Hospital Campaign Group, said: “Our stand is to safeguard the future of South Tyneside Hospital and its acute and emergency services. Families are very concerned about their vital NHS children and women’s health hospital services.

“We believe that the proposed changes will be a potential disaster for the people of South Tyneside and Sunderland.”

Helen Smith, solicitor with Irwin Mitchell, also commented: “Our legal challenge raises questions around the decisions taken by the CCGs because of a potentially flawed consultation process which breached the principles of procedural fairness and decisions made on the basis of potential flaws in the transport analysis. 

“Our clients believe the proposals to transfer the NHS services to Sunderland were based on a flawed assessment of the impact on patients and that the criteria to assess the cost of this was also flawed.”

Director of operations at South Tyneside CCG Matt Brown said the changes have been taken to “protect services that are exceptionally vulnerable” due to a severe shortage of skilled medical and nursing staff.

“The trust has provided repeated reassurance that South Tyneside Hospital has a strong and vibrant future, serving local residents,” he added. “These changes to services are about ensuring our services are appropriately staffed by the right numbers of skilled medical and nursing staff, so that we can provide the best possible care to local people.”

“We will continue to openly engage with staff, patients, stakeholders and elected members over the coming months as we work together to develop future plans for the best possible local hospital services. We are absolutely committed to securing the very best care for the people we serve, the residents of South Tyneside and Sunderland.”

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Image credit: Geograph

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