Under the plans detailed in the latest phase of the ‘Path to Excellence’ clinical transformation programme, South Tyneside District Hospital would provide only planned operations but both hospitals would continue to provide outpatient services as well as diagnostic tests and scans.

Last month, healthcare leaders published a further updated draft case for change (September 2021) which builds on work carried out by the surgical teams at South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust.

Most recently they have been busy finetuning ‘working ideas’ to make sure any additional learning from COVID-19 is factored into the plans before a formal public consultation is launched later this year.

Now as part of planning for public consultation, the local NHS would once again like to work with third sector and interest groups who support people who may face barriers to taking part or may be more impacted by any future changes.

Already the Path to Excellence has heard a wide range of views, with over 17,000 responses from people who have attended a meeting or event, responded via social media such as a like, share, view or a comment.

Dr Shaz Wahid, Executive Medical Director at South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, said: “It’s very important that the NHS continues to hear a range of views from patients and their families and carers, the public, staff, stakeholders and wider partners.

“Throughout the programme, we’ve had excellent involvement from community and voluntary organisations whom we know are extremely close to key communities, we’re grateful for their input and expertise. Feedback from their service users and members has influenced how working ideas have been developed and assessed.

“We would like once again to ask for their assistance to make sure there is involvement from their service users so their feedback will inform final decisions.”

So that groups can find out more about the programme and what is involved, we are inviting people to attend an information session on Thursday 21st October, 2:30pm – 4pm.

If you would like to attend the information session and are part of the community and voluntary sector, register your interest by emailing: nhs.excellence@nhs.net.

Engagement tools and training will be provided as well as a small payment.

The programme is particularly interested in hearing from organisations who are involved with:

• Older people aged 65+ and 75+

• Patients with long term health conditions (such as heart disease or breathing problems, or diabetes) and their families and carers

• Patients with musculoskeletal conditions – problems with joints

• Patients with cancer of the stomach or bowel

The programme is also keen to hear from groups who work with people with protected characteristics defined by the Equality Act 2010 that includes:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Race
  • Religion or belief
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation
  • Marriage and civil partnership
  • Pregnancy and maternity.

The ‘working ideas’ were initially published in February 2019 and outline a clear ambition to separate emergency operations from planned operations with multiple benefits for both patients and staff.

This would mean South Tyneside District Hospital would provide only planned operations, with all emergency operations and some planned procedures taking place at Sunderland Royal Hospital.  Both hospitals would continue to provide outpatient services as well as diagnostic tests and scans.

The impact of the pandemic and need for stringent infection control measures and separate pathways of care for non-COVID-19 patients, has made the reasons for changing surgical services even more, not less, urgent.  The national decision to postpone all non-urgent operations at the start of the pandemic has also left the NHS with a backlog of patients waiting for surgery.

Changing services would also help the NHS be better prepared for periods of ‘surge’. This is when lots of people arrive at the hospital and need to be admitted. There is always a surge in the winter months because the weather is colder and there are lots of viruses going around. Surges can happen for other reasons too and COVID-19 is a perfect example of this.

Local NHS leaders want to ensure surgical services are arranged in a way that minimises any such disruption in future and helps the NHS reduce waiting lists and avoid further delays or cancellations for people who need planned operations.

The ‘Updated Draft Case for Change (September 2021)’, is the fifth key document the programme has published which has shared the challenges being faced and how ideas have developed over time. They demonstrate how patient, staff and public feedback has influenced the development of working ideas that will eventually form part of a formal public consultation later in the year.

The NHS continues to prepare for public consultation including the normal NHS processes and assurances that are needed. The NHS will give advance notice of a public consultation starting and how people can get involved – inviting the community and voluntary sector participation is part of this preparation.

The programme continues to actively seek the views of staff, patients and stakeholders to gain their views on what is important to them to make hospital services better.

Find out more about the updated Draft Case for Change (September 2021) and ways to get involved and give views.

Read the summary

Read the easy read – full version

Read the easy read – short version

Watch the updated Draft Case for Change animation

Visit www.pathtoexcellence.org.uk for further information on the programme.