A HEALTH chief said the closure of the town’s A&E department was an “emotional” day yesterday – but added new changes had gone very well.
The accident and emergency department at the University Hospital of Hartlepool, in Holdforth Road, was finally closed after months of wrangling.
The 9am closure at the hospital site coincided with the opening of the minor injuries unit within the urgent care centre at the One Life Centre, in Park Road.
As previously reported, the existing A&E unit was declared unfit for purpose following an independent review and calls to have the decision to move facilities delayed was rejected last week.
Away from the two centres, road signs were changed to avoid any confusion for people driving in Hartlepool looking for emergency medical attention.
By 4pm yesterday, 25 patients had used the minor injuries facility in Park Road, with just two people having to be redirected to Park Road having turned up for treatment at the hospital.
By the same time seven people were taken to One Life by ambulance and were treated within the unit.
Alan Foster, chief executive of the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Trust, visited staff at the University Hospital of Hartlepool as they cleared the A&E unit before calling into the One Life Centre to speak to staff in the emergency assessment unit.
Mr Foster said: “I don’t underestimate how emotional the day was for many people.
“I would like to pay tribute to all the staff in accident and emergency and in the emergency assessment unit and wish them well as they get used to their new working arrangements.
“From what I saw yesterday, things have gone very well. This speaks volumes for planning and the amazing staff we have here in the trust.
“This is about the people who need care being looked after safely by a team of people who have the right skills to care for them, whether it’s in One Life Hartlepool, the emergency assessment unit at the University Hospital of Hartlepool or at the University Hospital of North Tees.
“I’m sure that people will get used to the new arrangements and will start to feel the benefits over the coming weeks and months.”