HEALTH Minister Jeremy Hunt has written to the Mail thanking readers for taking part in our petition over hospital services.
The Mail gathered a petition containing 12,000 signatures created through the Mail’s Bring them Back’ campaign to ensure services – including the A&E department – return to the University Hospital of Hartlepool from the University Hospital of North Tees in Stockton.
We launched the campaign after plans for a new £300m hospital at Wynyard were put on hold by the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust after being unable to secure £100m of Government funding.
A cross-party delegation travelled from the town to meet Mr Hunt and handed over the petition in London.
At the meeting Mr Hunt said he believed politicians in Hartlepool are in the “driving seat” over bringing back the town’s hospital services.
Now Mr Hunt has written a letter to the Mail in which he stated: “Thank you for your recent petition about the future of healthcare services in Hartlepool.
“It is essential that the people of Hartlepool have access to high quality, safe, effective and sustainable health services now, and in generations to come.
“However, it is best that decisions about how these services are delivered are made at a local level.
“Local doctors and healthcare professionals, taking into account the needs and wishes of their populations, should determine the provision of local health services.”
Mr Hunt said steps to introduce greater local autonomy in Manchester, where devolution of control has seen health chiefs given control of a £6billion budget, are an indication of the Government’s intention to see greater local control of healthcare decisions.
He added: “I appreciate that people care deeply about their health services, and the best outcomes will come when the local NHS works in close collaboration with local people.
“I encourage everyone, including elected representatives, to engage with the local NHS and make their views known.”
He urged people to contact Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees CCG on (01642) 745982 and give their views.
Following the meeting with the minister, politicians in the town have held talks with health chiefs over the issue.