2,747 say ‘yes’ to town hospital

Alan Foster
Alan Foster
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Some 2,809 people registered their vote by phone, text and on our Facebook page after we called on you to tell us what you thought.

The vote came in response to NHS Trust chief Alan Foster insisting that “the majority” of people would rather see a £300m hospital built at Wynyard rather than keeping open the existing site in the town.

He made the bold statement despite a wave of protest, a public march against the decision, a heated debate, a 30,000-name petition and a vote of no confidence in the health bosses over its decisions regarding the hospital.

So the Mail put his views to the test with its readers and launched a poll to give you your chance to have your say.

We asked: Are you in favour of a new hospital being built at Wynyard, or would you prefer the University Hospital of Hartlepool remained open?

And you responded, with 97.8 per cent, some 2,747, voting in favour of keeping the University Hospital of Hartlepool open.

A whopping 1,566 rang our phone line in favour of Hartlepool, with 39 voting for Wynyard. The picture was mirrored on our text vote, with 622 votes against 12 for Wynyard.

And 559 people voted on our Facebook page, with 449 ticking the box for Hartlepool.

Hundreds more started to register their votes in favour and against the move on our internet site. But the vote became subject to abuse throughout the course of the day and was subsequently removed and ALL votes discounted in the interest of fairness.

Keith Fisher, chairman of the Save Our Hospital group, said he wasn’t surprised by the results.

He said: “Having heard those results, I have to say that is what I expected.

“I applaud the Mail for setting up this vote and it stemmed from the comments that Mr Foster made in a live radio debate in which he declared to me that the vast majority of people were in favour of a move to Wynyard.

“That was not the case when we gathered more than 30,000 signatures to keep the hospital in Hartlepool, and doesn’t appear to be the case from the people who took the time to get involved in the Mail vote.

“I hope these figures are put to central Government, rather than a throw-away line incorrectly claiming that the vast majority are in favour of closing Hartlepool in favour of Wynyard.

“The Government are being asked to back something that nobody wants.

“A vote of 98 per cent could not be any plainer.”

Earlier this week we reported how hundreds of jobs are to be axed and vital services threatened after health bosses were forced to slash £40m off their budget due to Government cuts.

And in another devastating blow, chiefs revealed that the University Hospital of Hartlepool WILL close.

Services will either be transferred to a proposed £300m hospital at Wynyard or be amalgamated at the University Hospital of North Tees.

Trust chief Mr Foster brought further anger from campaigners by claiming the majority of people were in favour of such a move.

Repeated pleas to Whitehall over the move have fallen on deaf ears and this latest vote will probably do little to alter the result.

But it shows the strength of feeling from the residents of the town.

Mr Foster said: “My comment regarding public support for the new hospital site at Wynyard related to the consultation on the Momentum: pathways to healthcare programme. 2,700 people responded to the consultation with eight out of ten supporting the principles behind momentum which are to bring care closer to people’s homes.

“Of those that responded 84 per cent expressed a preference for a new hospital to be built at Wynyard as opposed to the other sites put forward, which included a site in Hartlepool.

North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust announced it has to slash £40m off its budget over the next three years and said that every service and aspect of healthcare will come under scrutiny.

Union bosses said they were “devastated” by the cost-cutting announcement which they say has left workers angry and upset.