Fertility agencies ‘hampered from bidding’ for Hartlepool hospital contract, committee hears

The University Hospital of Hartlepool.

The University Hospital of Hartlepool.

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Potential providers of Hartlepool’s fertility unit were not given important information to be able to offer to run it, a council meeting was told.

It is the claim of a Hartlepool councillor who has written to health chiefs expressing his concerns.

Councillor Ray Martin-Wells

Councillor Ray Martin-Wells

Coun Ray Martin-Wells, chair of the Audit and Governance Committee, said he had been contacted by “a number” of organisations who he claimed had been frustrated in their attempts to gain details necessary to tender for the Assisted Reproduction Unit (ARU) contract.

Coun Martin-Wells also said he would call the companies concerned to a meeting if commissioners claimed no-one was prepared to run the service at the University Hospital of Hartlepool.

The Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which funds the fertility service, says all potential providers have been treated fairly.

Coun Martin-Wells said: “I have been contacted by a number of organisations who were frustrated at their attempts to obtain information from both the trust and CCG in order that they could put a formal tender document together.

When we spent so much time on the ARU fiasco, I would call it, that then for the door to try to be closed at the back end of that process is not going to be acceptable

Councillor Ray Martin-Wells

“When we spent so much time on the ARU fiasco, I would call it, that then for the door to try to be closed at the back end of that process is not going to be acceptable.

“I felt it prudent to write to the CCG and Trust and express our concerns.

“I can assure you that if they then come back to us and say they had no interested parties I know for a fact that there are interested parties and with your permission I will call those individuals to a meeting and they can explain why they haven’t tendered.”

The deadline for tenders for the service closed on November 16, and CCG’s governing body is due to decide the preferred bidder on December 20.

A CCG spokesman said: “NHS Hartlepool and Stockton on Tees CCG have been working very closely with the Trust to ensure a fair and robust procurement process for the Assisted Reproduction Unit based at Hartlepool Hospital. We acknowledge the concerns raised by Coun Wells and have offered assurance that all potential providers have been treated fairly and in accordance with the Public Contract Regulations 2015.”

The CCG announced it would look for a new provider in July after the hospital trust planned to axe licensed treatments, like IVF, due to recruitment problems.