Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Hospital Access Concerns; Shake-Up 'Could Be in Vain' Due to Lack of Transport

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Hospital Access Concerns; Shake-Up 'Could Be in Vain' Due to Lack of Transport

Article excerpt

Byline: JAMES HARRISON Local Democracy Reporter ec.news@ncjmedia.co.uk @JHARRISONLDR

PATIENTS in Hebburn and Jarrow will 'migrate' to Gateshead and Newcastle if transport links to other hospitals aren't improved.

NHS chiefs have been warned their flagship plans to overhaul services in South Tyneside and Sunderland could be for nothing if those needing care cannot get to it.

But council bosses who raised the concerns also conceded there was little they or the clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) behind the plans could do to bring in the necessary changes on their own.

"[The CCGs have] no control over public transport," said Coun John McCabe.

"[They] could stand on the seaside like King Cnut and the waves will come in, but there's nothing [they] can do and there's nothing the council can do under the existing legislation to put on extra transport.

"The problem we've got in Hebburn is you need two buses and a Metro [to get to Sunderland].

"The provision is not good enough and it needs to be looked at it. It means people will take the shorter journey to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital or the Royal Victoria Infirmary [in Newcastle]. The western end of South Tyneside will migrate to Gateshead and Newcastle ." Coun McCabe was responding to a presentation by South Tyneside CCG on phase two of its controversial Path to Excellence scheme at a meeting of the Hebburn Community Forum.

Implementation of phase one, which covered stroke, maternity and paediatric care, has started following failed attempts to halt the changes by Government review and legal challenge. Both of these included concerns about travel and transport and Matt Brown, director of operations at the CCG, acknowledged this issue was still being raised by the public.

He said: "A dedicated partnership of travel and transport stakeholders has been set up to address the issues raised by local people during the public consultation for phase one. …

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