Hartlepool MP Iain Wright has challenged a hospital boss to answer a series of key questions over the closure of a fertility service at the town’s hospital.
Mr Wright has asked questions in Parliament to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and is seeking answers to a number of questions around the axing of licensed fertility services provided at the University Hospital of Hartlepool including details of attempts to recruit embryologists.
I am deeply disappointed at this newsIain Wright
North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust has reiterated that it has tried desperately to find an embryologist to allow the service to continue and advertised the post three times.
But the MP has called on the trust to put the decision on hold until the questions are answered.
In a letter to Alan Foster, chief executive of the hospital trust, Mr Wright said: “You will appreciate I am deeply disappointed at this news.
“This is a further example of services being closed or moved away from Hartlepool which undermines still further the future viability of the town’s hospital.
“I have asked Parliamentary questions to the Secretary of State for Health asking for further information on whether there is a national shortage of embryologists.”
Mr Wright adds: “I have received information from Unison that the trust has not re-advertised for the post since the previous embryologist left last year.
“In a similar way, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has today stated that the trust advertised the current vacancy once, in September 2015, and then only for a week on the NHS jobs website.”
Mr Wright wants answers from Mr Foster to a number of questions including the level of staffing, including embryologists needed for the current Assisted Reproduction Unit service to continue, what the recruitment process was for the vacant embryologist and if it differed from the last time it was advertised in May last year.
The trust says it advertised for the embryologist post three times in six months and added all vacancies are advertised online meaning anyone in the world can see it and apply.
A hospital trust spokesman said: “We have made every effort for some time to recruit.
“All of our vacancies are advertised on NHS Jobs, which is a dedicated online recruitment service for the NHS.
“All jobs advertised can be accessed from overseas. Candidates are shortlisted only when they meet the criteria.”
The trust added it has not yet received Mr Wright’s letter.