Calls to reopen North Shields A&E persist despite ‘excellent’ emergency care for patients

Calls to reopen an A&E department in North Shields persist despite “excellent” emergency care in the area.

An NHS and council draft report has concluded there is “an excellent standard of emergency care” for the residents of North Tyneside despite the closure of North Tyneside General Hospital’s 24-hour A&E. Patients are now diverted to either the Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI) in Newcastle or the Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital in Cramlington.

The report, seen by the Local Democracy Reporting Service, states there are “high levels of performance” between these two emergency centre alternatives. According to NHS figures, A&E performance at Cramlington ranks top in the entire country with Newcastle’s RVI at number 10.

The report comes after North Tyneside Council established a “task force” in September to examine emergency care in the area with a focus on the potential return of a 24-hour A&E to North Tyneside General.

A spokesperson from Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust said: “We always welcome the opportunity to work with our local councils and continuously engage with a wide range of stakeholders around the care we provide. Our teams enjoyed meeting the task force and showing them around our hospitals to see first-hand how we work at Northumbria Healthcare.

“All the evidence points to very high levels of patient satisfaction with our services in North Tyneside and our emergency care model remains the best performing in the country when it comes to accident and emergency.”

The report did concede that transport links to Cramlington need to be improved for non-emergency appointments at the site. The report also found there is still some confusion on where to go for non-emergencies since the decommissioning of the Battle Hill Walk-in Centre in 2017.

The report has, however, created political ructions, with two Conservative councillors resigning from the task force as they “cannot stand by the report”. Councillors Liam Bones and John Johnsson issued a joint letter to the Labour chair of the task force, Councillor Jim Montague.

The statement read: “We have both tried to engage with you to make sure the restoration of NHS services was included in the committee’s final report. But you have repeatedly ignored our calls – and by extension the calls of residents.”

It continued: “We are therefore resigning from your committee with immediate effect. We cannot stand by the report that has been produced because it is bad for residents and bad for health outcomes.

“The Conservative Group is committed to restoring these services to Rake Lane and Battle Hill and we promise residents that we will do so after the election in May.”

A Labour spokesperson said: “The Labour Group in North Tyneside have consistently been in favour of restoring services to Battle Hill and Rake Lane. Coun Bones and Johnsson are once again trying to mislead residents.

“North Tyneside Council has no power over the NHS and couldn’t force them to reopen services. The NHS locally took this decision and this statement tries to blame the local authority for their decision.

“Liam and John both know this and if they don’t they should really resign from the council, so we can only assume this is a disgraceful attempt to smear the local authority and Labour councillors. This is petty political point scoring which does nothing to address the issue of healthcare and residents.

“Liam and John’s Conservative Government has consistently mismanaged the NHS, if they really cared about the NHS they’d be calling for a general election, as the only thing that will improve health outcomes for our residents is a Labour Government.”

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