Health chiefs deny stroke unit claims

HEALTH bosses have moved to reassure patients that a vital unit at the University Hospital of Hartlepool is not set for closure.

There had been claims that the stroke unit at the hospital would be closed down later this year, with plans put in place to merge it with the existing stroke unit at the University Hospital of North Tees, in Stockton.

With the accident and emergency department having been closed down last month there were fears the 12-bed unit had been earmarked as the next service to go from the Holdforth Road site.

One staff member, who did not wish to be named, contacted the Hartlepool Mail to say the ward was to be closed and transferred to Stockton as there were not enough patients to keep the ward and a similar service at Stockton running.

But bosses at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Trust moved today to insist there were no plans to axe the facility and it appears the fears had been sparked after plans to merge two wards together within the hospital leaked out.

Sue Piggott, general manager for medicine at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, said: “There are no plans to close the stroke unit at the University Hospital of Hartlepool.

“We are working hard to make sure our services are running as safely and efficiently as possible in the interests of patients.

“We are currently looking at integrating the stroke unit and the medical rehabilitation ward. These two wards work closely together and patients are cared for by the same consultants.

“Not only would this benefit the patients, but also the nursing staff and allied health professionals, such as physiotherapists and occupational therapists who would have an opportunity to develop their skills.”

Meanwhile, representatives from the Trust will be at Hartlepool Borough Council’s Health Scrutiny Forum meeting on Thursday at 10am in the Civic centre, in Victoria Road.

At 7pm on the same day, health bosses will also be present at an extraordinary meeting of the full council, also at the Civic Centre, where councillors will debate the current health service in town following the A&E closure.