Council leader is staying on - and vows to fight to bring hospital services back to Hartlepool

BRING THEM BACK: Coun Akers-Belcher wants services returned to the University Hospital of Hartlepool.

BRING THEM BACK: Coun Akers-Belcher wants services returned to the University Hospital of Hartlepool.

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A COUNCILLOR has vowed to continue to fight for hospital services as he is set to continue for the next year as council leader.

Coun Christopher Akers Belcher has confirmed he will be continuing as Leader of the Council for the next municipal year after the election saw the party increase its seats to 22 out of 33.

People simply do not want to travel out of town for hospital services that could be provided locally, and we’ll continue to fight on behalf of residents and hold the hospital trust to account at every opportunity.

Coun Christopher Akers-Belcher

He has set out hopes and targets for the next 12 months that will also see Hartlepool Borough Council facing tough financial constraints.

Talks are underway in the town between the council and health bosses following calls to bring services back to the University Hospital of Hartlepool after several services were transferred to the University Hospital of North Tees in Stockton.

North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust this week sold the land earmarked for the new hospital at Wynyard back to Wynyard Park Limited.

It follows last October’s announcement by trust bosses that they were shelving the £300m development at Wynyard after failing to secure £100m funding from the Government to build it before the General Election.

The Mail’s Bring Them Back campaign gathered 12,000 signatures on a petition which was handed to Health Minister Jeremy Hunt by across-party delegation of town politicians in London earlier this year.

Coun Akers-Belcher said in the next year said there will be no let-up in the efforts to bring hospital services back to Hartlepool’s hospital from North Tees in Stockton, including A&E.

He said: “We will continue our campaign with vigour to do everything possible to see the return of hospital services to Hartlepool.

“We’ve already started the process with the Clinical Commissioning Group to develop a Health Plan for Hartlepool which aims to give local people a choice over where they access hospital services and expect the first piece of work to be completed by the autumn.

“People simply do not want to travel out of town for hospital services that could be provided locally, and we’ll continue to fight on behalf of residents and hold the hospital trust to account at every opportunity.

“Over the coming months we will also be working to bring health and social care services closer together.

“Statistics show that people are living longer but have multiple needs, and a more joined-up approach will not only improve the level of support but ensure we get the best use of ever-shrinking resources.”