A COUNCILLOR has slammed the decision to close the A&E department at the University Hospital of Hartlepool.
Earlier this week, health chiefs announced that the accident and emergency unit at the Holdforth Road site, will be shut down on Tuesday, August 2.
Patients in Hartlepool and east Durham in need of emergency attention will be dealt with at the £20m One Life Hartlepool.
The end to the long-running saga comes after the A&E department was declared unfit for purpose by an independent review by health professionals, academics and local councillors.
A&E is one of three round-the-clock health services in town that are being transferred to a newly-created urgent care centre at One Life Hartlepool, in Park Road.
But Labour councillor Jonathan Brash, former chair of Hartlepool Borough Council’s health scrutiny forum, has slammed the move saying it threatens the “viability” of the current hospital.
Coun Brash said: “When I chaired the health scrutiny forum in 2008 we were told that services from the old hospital would overlap with the new one, yet here we have a situation where we are losing our A&E years before any potential new hospital opens. In my view nothing has changed since the council threatened to take this matter to the Secretary of State last year and I can’t understand why anyone would go along with this plan.
“This decision threatens the viability of our current hospital without a clear decision on whether a new one will be definitely be built.
“It’s not fair on patients or indeed the incredible staff who work every day to save lives in our town.”
The decision was rubber-stamped by bosses at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust after an independent review into the department’s facilities ruled it as being “unfit for purpose” back in March.
It means that minor injuries previously dealt with by the A&E department, the Victoria Road walk-in centre and the out-of-hours medical service will all be based at One Life Hartlepool.
The changes are part of the Momentum: Pathways to Healthcare programme being led by North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust.
Patients who call 999 will be assessed by the ambulance service and taken to the right place.
Health chiefs say in most cases that will be the emergency assessment unit at the Holdforth Road-based hospital.
A series of public meetings will be held over the next six weeks to raise awareness among people of what to do in an emergency.