Councillors agree to form group to create plan for future of health services in Hartlepool

The University Hospital of Hartlepool
The University Hospital of Hartlepool

A NEW committee will be set up to create a health plan for Hartlepool and even invite an expert to get involved who previously recommended the town’s hospital be made a centre of excellence.

At an extraordinary meeting of Hartlepool Borough Council at the Town Hall Theatre last night, councillors unanimously voted in favour of a motion to create the group which could implement a local plan for health services.

My proposal would be that we should form a grand committee, a council working group which feeds into the process and includes the public

Independent councillor Jonathan Brash

It was also proposed to ask Lord Ara Darzi, who a decade ago led a review of acute services in Teesside and North Yorkshire, to get involved.

As part of the review Professor Darzi recommended that Hartlepool’s hospital should become a consultant-led centre of excellence for maternity and paediatric care, while the University Hospital of North Tees specialised in emergency care.

But at the meeting, councillors controversially voted against holding referendums over the validity of the plan and also a vote of no confidence in North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust.

The meeting came after members of the council travelled to London to meet with Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt over the issue of bringing hospital services back to the town.

The group handed over a 12,000-name petition created through the Mail’s ‘Bring Them Back’ campaign calling for services – including the A&E department – to return to the University Hospital of Hartlepool from the University Hospital of North Tees in Stockton.

The Mail launched the campaign after plans for a new £300m hospital at Wynyard were put on hold by the hospital trust after being unable to secure Government funding.

Council leader, Coun Christopher Akers-Belcher told the packed meeting, which was attended by about 100 people: “We now have an opportunity to work as a whole council. This is what the people of Hartlepool want and I don’t believe that any councillor would question that this is the will of the people which we represent.”

He added: “The CCG (clinical commissioning group) have confirmed they are willing to work with the council on the development of such a plan.”

A motion proposed by Burn Valley ward councillor and independent Jonathan Brash to create a local plan for health services in the town also detailed putting in place an independent chair, forming a grand committee containing elected members and asking Lord Darzi to get involved.

“I think we should extend an invitation to Lord Darzi, overmore it’s possible that as a busy man he may be unable to take part,” said Coun Brash.

“The development of any plan cannot be done in the smoke-filled rooms of the Civic.

“My proposal would be that we should form a grand committee, a council working group which feeds into the process and includes the public.”

It was also agreed the council should refer information to the watchdog Monitor relating the leadership of the trust.

The decision to create the plan was carried, however the motion to have a referendum on the local plan was tied at 15 all, with Hartlepool Mayor Councillor Stephen Akers-Belcher having the casting vote and voting against, much to the derision of many in the audience.

The motion to hold a referendum over the public having no confidence in the health trust was defeated by 19 votes to 11.

The decisions not to hold referendums over the two issues caused anger in the audience with many shouting “disgrace” before some began chanting “Labour out”.