No A&E when some services return to hospital

The University Hospital of Hartlepool
The University Hospital of Hartlepool

HEALTH chiefs have set out plans to bring some services back to Hartlepool’s hospital – but insist there will be no return of its A&E department.

A new unit to bring several services for elderly patients under one roof is being developed in the former casualty department at the University Hospital of Hartlepool.

It is one of a number of additions to services at the Hartlepool site that hospital bosses outlined to a meeting of Hartlepool Borough Council’s health scrutiny forum.

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Cardiology, diagnostic urology, endoscopy and orthopaedics are all set to be reinstated at the University Hospital of Hartlepool this year.

The meeting at Hartlepool College of Further Education was also attended by around 30 members of the public, including campaigners in the Save Our Hospital group.

But trust chiefs once again rejected repeated calls from the audience to reinstate the A&E department, which was closed as part of plans leading to the building of a new hospital at Wynyard.

Feelings ran high at times as members of the public once again told the trust most people in the town and east Durham did not want the new hospital and claimed people had no faith in the One Life Hartlepool centre, in the town’s Park Road.

Carole Langrick, director of strategic development at the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, said the proposals were part of their mission to help patients access services closer to home.

She told the meeting: “It is a continuation of our commitment as a trust to, where we can, enhance provision in Hartlepool and where we can do that we will do so.

“What this is not, is turning the clock back.

“It’s not about putting services, such as A&E and trauma services that were removed, back to Hartlepool.

“That’s not possible for reasons that have been well aired for both safety and quality reasons.

“To do so would be irresponsible and impossible.”

One of the services coming to Hartlepool’s hospital, currently carried out at the University Hospital of North Tees in Stockton, is a procedure to look inside the bladder that is estimated will benefit an extra 500 people a year.

Two theatre sessions a week for orthopaedic hand surgery are now being carried out in Hartlepool and extra endoscopy services, a procedure to look inside the body for things like cancer, will also be carried out at Hartlepool.

And a 36-year-old rehabilitation day unit on the town hospital site will be replaced by a purpose-built unit within the main building.

The meeting also heard that all cardiology services at the Holdforth Road site will be re-located to a single purpose-built area within the hospital by May this year.

Dr Chris Ward, consultant physician for the elderly at the trust, said the move would help patients access a range of services more quickly under one roof.

Councillors on the scrutiny forum welcomed the developments.

But some said they did not go far enough.

Coun Geoff Lilley said: “I think everyone in Hartlepool would be happy to see services come back, but extremely let down that they are not seeing a hospital-based A&E.”

Keith Fisher, of the Save Our Hartlepool group, said: “I personally welcome back any services to this town. However, I’m not about to thank anyone.

“It’s like thanking the burglar for giving some of your trinkets back while he’s kept the family jewels, and the family jewels in this case is the A&E.”

Trust chief executive, Alan Foster, admitted after their last board meeting they did not have “a clear way forward” while it awaits Government approval of Private Finance Initiative funding plans for Wynyard.