Councillor: ‘I won’t drop my hospital battle’

Keith Fisher

Keith Fisher

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A CAMPAIGNING councillor said he is disappointed after the health ombudsman confirmed it would not be taking any further action over his concerns about hospital plans.

Independent councillor Keith Fisher contacted the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) to query the powers of North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust.

It was in relation to plans to build a £300m hospital at Wynyard and he questioned how the trust’s board could “plough ahead” with plans despite public protests and a vote of “no confidence” in the board by Hartlepool councillors.

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But Coun Fisher has received a response confirming they will be taking no further action at this stage.

The role of the Ombudsman is to consider complaints that Government departments, a range of other public bodies in the UK, and the NHS in England, have not acted properly or fairly or have provided a poor service.

Coun Fisher, who represents the Hart ward and is chairman of the Save Our Hospital campaign, said: “I was surprised.

“I thought they were supportive but it appears they are not prepared to take any action.

“I was a little upset when I received it but I won’t be dropping the subject. I can’t let it go.”

Trust bosses, who run hospitals in Hartlepool and Stockton, are planning to close the current sites and move services to a single hospital at Wynyard.

A decision over the funding is expected to be made in July or August.

They say there have been several reviews and their mandate has been approved by the Secretary of State for Health.

Coun Fisher has replied to the PHSO again airing his concerns about the consultation process and is waiting for a further response before deciding what to do next.

He added: “Many people will be disappointed they don’t intend to take any action regarding the trust’s unacceptable ignoring of public opinion and their determination to borrow money to build something which only they want to build.”

Health bosses say there have been several service reviews starting with the Tees Review in 2003.

Then there was the Darzi Review, also known as the Acute Services Review – Stockton and Hartlepool, in July 2005.

From that North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, the South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and the Primary Care Trusts’ as commissioners carried out a consultation in September 2005.

Health chiefs say they all talked about the need for change.

A North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust spokeswoman said: “There was a referral to the Secretary of State for Health and, from that, the Independent Reconfiguration Panel made their recommendations, one of which was to build a new hospital to serve the people of Hartlepool, Stockton and parts of Easington and Sedgefield.

“So the mandate was the recommendation of that report which was approved by the Secretary of State for health and published in December 2006.”

She added the outcome of the Momentum consultation in June 2008 was that Wynyard was the preferred site for the new hospital.