AN organisation that represents former miners has added its voice to calls for services to be returned to Hartlepool’s hospital.
The Durham Miners’ Association say it is “imperative” services that have been transferred to the University Hospital of North Tees, in Stockton, are brought back after hospital bosses suspended work on a new £300m development at Wynyard.
The North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust said it is unlikely to get the go-ahead from the Government, which it tried to get £100m funding from, before next year’s General Election adding to the delay.
The Wynyard hospital would replace the university hospitals of Hartlepool and North Tees, and would also serve East Durham patients.
As a result, the Hartlepool Mail launched the Bring Them Back campaign which has seen more than 11,000 signatures added to the petition.
Meanwhile, Hartlepool Borough Council has sent a letter to Jeremy Hunt, the Secretary of State for Health, to ask him to step into the row with North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust.
Now Dave Hopper, secretary of Durham Miners’ Association, said: “What an absolute fiasco has taken place in respect of the suspension of the proposed new hospital build at Wynyard.
“We feel Wynyard has been a complete waste of money, and that money could have kept Hartlepool hospital open.
“It is imperative that the services removed should be returned immediately to the Hartlepool hospital in the interests of the local population – a population which has always been supported by the Durham Miners’ Association in their efforts to retain their hospital.
“The increasing austerity cuts make it even more vital that this service is restored.”
The association added people from East Durham are finding it increasingly difficult to afford travel costs to North Tees hospital, and fear Wynyard would be more difficult to access.
It has also called for an inquiry into the £6.8m spent on the plans so far.
Mr Hopper added: “We cannot allow people’s lives and limbs to be put in jeopardy.
“We have been really pleased with the support we are getting from people in East Durham, and we are fully behind any campaign that supports the return of services.
“We are calling on the powers-that-be at the trust to see some common sense.
“A lot of our population is elderly and they just can’t afford to travel or without great difficulty.
“We feel people deserve better.”