‘I will continue to say it: Services will not come back’

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ALAN Foster insisted he had no intention of quitting his role – or restoring services to Hartlepool – despite coming under fire from all sides.

A public meeting at Hartlepool’s Central Library descended into farce last week when scores of people were locked out.

NOT BUDGING: Alan Foster, Chief Executive of North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, during the Hartlepool Hospital meeting held in the Town Hall Theatre.

NOT BUDGING: Alan Foster, Chief Executive of North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, during the Hartlepool Hospital meeting held in the Town Hall Theatre.

But Mr Foster found out exactly what the people of the town thought of him when he faced them at the Town Hall Theatre.

And despite repeated calls for him to quit, he was adamant that anyone who did his job would face the same problems.

He said: “We have been trying to deliver the new hospital for six years now.

“All we have ever tried to do is look to the future and bring world class facilities to the area.

“We need to attract high calibre staff, and whether you like it or not, we are competing with other trusts across the country and the North East at Newcastle.

“We need to sustain and keep services, and anything other than a new hospital is second best.

“As for services coming back to Hartlepool, you know how the system works, we will not be able to bring services back.

“They have already been centralised, we cannot run services over two sites.

“At the end of the day, nobody wants to close services, but these sort of decisions are being made across the country.

“This is not just a Hartlepool issue. We have to provide the best outcome.

“We would love to bring services back, but we just cannot get the staff.

“Any new chief executive would find themselves in exactly the same position as I am.”

There were ironic laughs as he added: “The reality is I am on your side.

“But I cannot deliver two hospitals on two sites.

“There isn’t the resource to do that.”

Speaking to the Mail afterwards, Mr Foster said he was not shocked by the animosity shown towards him by both the public and the councillors.

But he insisted the decision to shift services down the A19 was not one that he took.

He said: “The North Tees decision was made many years ago.

“Centralisation wasn’t my decision. It was taken on advice from clinical experts.

“The gripe is with the movement of services, but what people need to realise 
is we do what the doctors tell us.

“Changes are made when the doctors tell us it is no longer safe to continue.

“It would be great if we could put everything back, but the world has changed.

“The public think we run all of the health services, but we’re not responsible for GPs or One Life or social care.

“We just relate to the hospital, but it has become complex.

“We want the best.

“But I will continue to say it: Services will never come back to Hartlepool.”