A hospital campaign group is calling for councillors to hold a vote of no confidence in a health trust after it failed to attend a meeting over changes to fertility services.
The Town of Hartlepool Challenge group, which runs Save Hartlepool Hospital, added its voice to criticism levelled at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust.
It followed a meeting of Hartlepool council on Friday afternoon when trust leaders were due to answer questions from councillors, unions and the public about its decision to end key fertility services in Hartlepool from the end of March.
At the meeting the credibility of the trust’s ability to recruit embryologists to keep the assisted reproduction unit going was called into serious question.
Town MP Iain Wright quoted a government minister who said the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) said it is not aware of any issues with the availability of embryologists in the UK.
And meeting chairman Councillor Ray Martin-Wells referred to a HFEA inspection report of the Hartlepool unit last November which said it was satisfied with staffing levels for the license to continue.
A legal representative for the trust asked for Friday’s meeting to be adjourned so an independent expert could be found and questioned the impartiality of Dr Mohammed Menabawey who helped to set up Hartlepool’s fertility service.
Stan Cronin, chairman of the Town of Hartlepool Challenge group, said: “It is widely felt by this group that the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS [Foundation] Trust once more demonstrated their lack of respect and understanding towards the people of Hartlepool and its surrounding areas.
“We feel that it is morally wrong for anyone to try to stop members of the public and their representatives from asking pertinent questions to those who are paid to deliver a public service.”
Mr Cronin added the anger and distrust felt by councillors at the meeting is what its members have felt for the last decade as more and more services were removed from Hartlepool hospital.
He said: “We say to the committee that it is the will of the majority of our members that you put forward a unilateral vote of no confidence and withdraw co-operation with the North Tees and Hartlepool hospital trust.
“It is time for the general public and the people that they vote to represent them to join together and stand up to these single and narrow minded people, now is the time to act and give back a truly first rate health service to the people of Hartlepool.”
The council is to ask health secretary Jeremy Hunt to halt the fertility service changes.