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As the local consultation around key NHS changes enters its final weekend, NHS leaders are reminding people to ensure they contribute views through official consultation channels.

Dr David Hambleton, accountable officer for NHS South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group said: “We understand the enormous public interest and concern there are in these changes, as patients, public and staff we all have a shared passion for the NHS.

We are keen that people ensure their views are included in the consultation and there is still time over the weekend until midnight on Sunday 15th October and the best way to do that is to visit the programme website on

Dr Hambleton continued: “We’ve been very clear throughout the consultation process that any change would only be done in order to improve the quality of patient care, ensure the future sustainability of services and make best use of the staff expertise and facilities the NHS has.”

“We have also been very clear that no change is not an option as these are vulnerable NHS services. If we do not change in a planned way then we will end up having to make changes in an emergency situation, and that is not good for patients or for staff.

“We have also been very clear that the NHS nationally and locally is facing increasing significant workforce issues, which means that we need to arrange services differently in order to ensure we maintain and improve patient safety and improve service quality in the future.

“We have been open and honest about this from the start of the consultation and explained this at public events and meetings we’ve attended. Our legal and moral responsibility is to ensure local NHS services are safe, sustainable and we believe the options we’ve talked to the public about are the best way we can achieve this.”

Over the 14 and a half weeks of consultation that started on July 5th there has been 18 public events; with surveys, street interviews, work with community and voluntary groups, staff events, NHS attendance at joint health overview and scrutiny meetings. There has also been contributions from regional and national independent clinical experts and an independent review of the consultation process by a national body called the Consultation Institute.

There has also been dedicated events to consider travel and transport issues including working with public transport organisations and the North East Ambulance Service.

Feedback from the public consultation will be analysed into themes and published in early December in order to ensure the public have an opportunity to hear it before it is used to inform the final decisions.

The public consultation is being led by the commissioners of local health services – NHS South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and NHS Sunderland CCG – who are responsible for planning and buying healthcare services on behalf of patients.

Working in partnership with South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust and City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, who formed a strategic alliance in March 2016 known as ‘South Tyneside and Sunderland Healthcare Group’, all four NHS organisations are committed to delivering the best possible NHS services for the future through the Path to Excellence programme.

The final decision will be made by the two clinical commissioning groups at their governing bodies held in public in early 2018.