Hartlepool health body questions selection of hospital boss as leader for new NHS plans

University Hospital of Hartlepool

University Hospital of Hartlepool

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A civic leader has questioned the choice of a local hospital boss to lead new large-scale plan for change in the NHS after the removal of services from Hartlepool hospital.

Coun Christopher Akers-Belcher, chairman of Hartlepool’s Health and Wellbeing Board, has written to NHS England to raise concerns about Sustainability Transformation Plans (STPs).

Alan Foster the Chief Executive of North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust

Alan Foster the Chief Executive of North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust

Alan Foster, chief executive of North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, is overseeing the STP for the area which includes Hartlepool.

In a letter to NHS England’s Jo Lenaghan, project director of the Five Year Forward View project, Coun Akers-Belcher says: “Under Mr Foster’s leadership, there has been an incremental removal of services from the University Hospital of Hartlepool and a lack of strategic planning in terms of the long term future and sustainability of services in Hartlepool.

“On this basis, on two separate occasions, the council has recorded a vote of no confidence in the management of the FT [foundation trust], led by Mr Foster.”

Coun Akers-Belcher said it represented a lack of faith and trust in the foundation trust’s commitment to providing hospital services in Hartlepool.

Under Mr Foster’s leadership, there has been an incremental removal of services from the University Hospital of Hartlepool

Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher

He added: “As such, we would question the appointment of Mr Foster as STP lead for the County Durham, Darlington, Teesside, Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby footprint.”

Coun Akers-Belcher also claims the Health and Wellbeing Board has had no chance to influence the STP development and asks for a meeting with Ms Lenaghan.

There are 44 STPs being developed nationally. The plans will have to show how local health services will evolve and become sustainable over the next five years.

North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust said Coun Belcher’s issues should be adressed by NHS England.

Tim Rideout, director of commissioning operations for NHS England in Cumbria and the north east, said: “We need an NHS ready for the future and, to do this, local service leaders are working together on shared plans to transform health and care in the communities they serve, including how to invest in the most appropriate services as use of the NHS grows over the next few years.”

Mr Rideout said NHS England expects the plans to be based on local needs and it is important that they reflect the views and input of health and social care organisations

He added: “Options and proposals in STPs will be subject to a range of engagement and consultation processes, as necessary, before any significant changes to services would be made.”