‘A&E decision flawed’ claim

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LABOUR party members have drafted a resolution condemning the actions of health bosses over the closure of the A&E department at the University Hospital of Hartlepool.

The Blackhall Labour Party met to discuss the closure of the department at the Holdforth Road site.

Councillor Rob Crute, who represents the village on Durham County Council, drafted a resolution condemning the actions of North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust.

The resolution, which was backed by members, also calls for the reversal of the trust’s decision to close A&E and return the facility in full.

Coun Crute claims trust bosses “failed to consult the people of east Durham which we feel to be irrational and unfair to our communities”.

The councillor, who claims there has been a lack of consultation with east Durham residents over the closure, will speak on the resolution when it is submitted to the Easington Constituency Labour Party Executive next week for endorsement.

The councillor, who represents Hesleden, Hutton Henry and Station Town, called a meeting on Friday, involving Horden councillor Paul Stradling, Durham County Council’s overview and scrutiny committee vice-chairman; Shotton councillor Robin Todd, chairman of the council’s health scrutiny committee and relevant portfolio holders, to discuss his concerns.

Councillors agreed to write to the trust, NHS Hartlepool and Hartlepool Borough Council’s health scrutiny forum to express the concerns of Durham County Council’s health overview scrutiny committee over the alleged lack of involvement of the Durham authority’s scrutiny function in the department’s closure.

Coun Crute said: “I feel extremely disappointed at the actions of the trust and the other bodies referred to above in closing the A&E department despite the clear wishes of many of residents of Hartlepool and east Durham embodied in a petition of over 30,000 signatories.

“I feel that the scrutiny function at Durham County Council has been marginalised by the trust and further that the people I represent in Blackhall and in other parts of east Durham have been entirely disregarded throughout the whole process.

“As a result of this flawed process I consider that the ultimate decision to close A&E is equally invalid.

“I call on the trust to do the right and decent thing for the people of Hartlepool and east Durham and reverse the closure of the A&E department and pledge to ensure that all services at the University Hospital of Hartlepool will remain in Hartlepool and that those services already removed will be reinstated immediately.”

A trust spokeswoman said: “The people of County Durham were included in the initial momentum: pathways to healthcare programme consultation and the health overview and scrutiny committee have been kept fully informed and involved throughout the process.

“The momentum: pathways to healthcare programme is about keeping people healthy and intervening early with care and treatment to avoid the need for people to go into hospital.”

The spokeswoman said east Durham residents now have the 111 service so, by making one phone call, they can get the appropriate help and advice to ensure they get to the right place first time for any care they need.

Hartlepool Borough Council’s health scrutiny forum chairman Councillor Stephen Akers-Belcher previously said the forum has never had the power to say no to the decision to close A&E and its role was to ensure the process was acceptable.