AN OMBUDSMAN is being urged to further investigate a councillor’s complaint against North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust over claims it failed to consult with residents about radical hospital changes.
Councillor Rob Crute, who represents Blackhall on Durham County Council, previously wrote to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO), with concerns over a lack of consultation with East Durham residents about the trust’s proposals to close the University Hospital of Hartlepool and build a new hospital at Wynyard.
Coun Crute claims there is no public support for the proposal.
He previously contacted the ombudsman and was advised to pursue his concerns with the trust, which he did.
Coun Crute has since received a response from the trust which he feels failed to fully answer his query.
In a subsequent letter to the PHSO, Coun Crute said: “I feel that the trust has failed to fully answer my query in relation to its consultation exercise as it has not adequately identified a pattern of consultation in East Durham to compare with the level and format of consultation in other affected areas.
“My original complaint to the trust related to its failure to demonstrate that they had consulted with East Durham residents in a realistically defined manner and failed to provide evidence of meaningful consultation.
“After reading documents provided by the trust, my opinion remains unchanged.”
Coun Crute accepts that the trust introduced its Momentum: Pathways To Healthcare proposals to residents in East Durham, but says the consultation was offered on a reduced scale compared to other areas.
Coun Crute is now awaiting a response from the PHSO before deciding on his next move.
Another campaigning councillor, Keith Fisher, previously contacted the PHSO to query the powers of North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust.
Independent councillor Fisher, who represents the Hart ward, questioned how the trust’s board could “plough ahead” with plans for a new hospital despite public protests and a vote of “no confidence” in the board by Hartlepool councillors.
But Coun Fisher received a response in June this year stating the PHSO was taking no further action at that time.
Plans for the opening of a hospital at Wynyard are now two years behind schedule, as reported in the Mail last month.
Health bosses announced that they were starting an 18-month process to procure builders as they still bid to secure £300m of private funding.
But they admitted it could be late 2016 or 2017 before the hospital opens its doors.
In a joint statement NHS Hartlepool, NHS Stockton on Tees, NHS Durham and Darlington and North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust said: “The Momentum: Pathways To Healthcare programme is a joint programme between our three organisations.
“Because North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust also serves the people of Easington we provided a number of opportunities to give information and gain views from the residents of Easington.
“Patient representatives from Easington were involved in redesigning services and were members of the partnership panel.
“For the wider public we also arranged a pre-consultation road show in Castle Dene shopping centre on May 20-22, 2008.
“Throughout the consultation we also held a number of public meetings, including one in Peterlee on July 9, 2008.
“People also had the opportunity to give their views by writing in or completing an online questionnaire.
“All of these events and opportunities to comment were well publicised in the Hartlepool Mail as well as other media.
“The clinical commissioning groups, responsible for commissioning services across Hartlepool, Stockton and East Durham from April 2013, will be working hard with local communities as the Momentum programme progresses to ensure they have an opportunity to be fully involved in the development of services.”