Published on: 26 July 2019

More patients across South Tyneside and Sunderland are getting access to high quality stroke care and life saving treatment thanks to major changes made as part of Phase One of the Path to Excellence programme – and these changes are supported in a written judgement which is now available to read.

A judicial review hearing took place in December 2018 which challenged the decision of NHS South Tyneside and Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Groups following a public consultation into the future of hospital-based stroke, maternity, gynaecology and urgent paediatric care.

Due to the level of service vulnerability stroke changes took place from December 2016 with changes to maternity, gynaecology and emergency paediatric care in South Tyneside starting from 5 August 2019.

Speaking on behalf of South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group and Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCGs), Matt Brown, director at NHS South Tyneside CCG, said:

“We are pleased that the written judgement is now available for people to read.  It shows, very clearly, that the judge supported our decision for phase one of the Path to Excellence programme and found our robust public consultation in 2017, undertaken together with NHS Sunderland CCG, to be a fair and lawful process.

“While we understand people's natural concerns about changes to healthcare services, these changes have always been about doing what is right for our patients and protecting hospital services which are extremely vulnerable.”

Since December 2018 when the court hearing took place, new independent data shows that the quality of stroke services has risen significantly over the past two years with more patients now receiving timely care, delivered by specialists, in a dedicated acute stroke unit.

This means that more people in South Tyneside and Sunderland are surviving a stroke and less people are suffering lifelong disability because of the improvements made in stroke services.

Matt added: “Stroke, maternity, gynaecology and emergency paediatric care are much valued services and both CCGs took their decision making very seriously, based on clear clinical evidence and in the best interests of people in South Tyneside and Sunderland. We can’t delay making these changes any longer and I want to be very clear that if we don’t make changes, we are putting both patients and our staff at risk.”

 “Making sure we can continue to deliver safe, high quality care has always been our driving force for change and I have no doubt that our new models of maternity and emergency paediatric care coming into operation from 5 August will safeguard these services in the long-term.”

The Independent Reconfiguration Panel, an independent body which provides advice to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, also determined that these changes were in the interests of local health services.

A written judgement on the case can be read at

Matt said: “The Path to Excellence programme is all about making sure we have the very best possible care and clinical outcomes so we can create future services which are amongst the very best in the NHS. As the stroke changes are proving, this is how we make things better for patients.

“Staff at both hospitals in South Tyneside and Sunderland have been working hard to prepare for the vital changes to maternity, gynaecology and emergency paediatric care from 5 August which are being made in the very best interests of patient care. 

“We will continue to engage openly with colleagues, patients and partners as we implement these changes, providing independent evidence of improvements to care, as we continue to develop plans to deliver clinical excellence through phase two of the programme."