Stockton hospital not as good as Hartlepool, says council leader

Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher

Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher

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A CIVIC leader says the massive support in the Mail’s ‘Bring Them Back’ campaign shows strength of feeling about our hospital.

More than 5,000 people have signed the Mail’s petition calling for North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust to restore services at the University Hospital of Hartlepool.

Mail receptionists Julie Hansford and Cath Burgon sort through hundreds of petitions which have been handed into our office

Mail receptionists Julie Hansford and Cath Burgon sort through hundreds of petitions which have been handed into our office

Click here to sign the petition

It comes as a team of senior councillors from Hartlepool Borough Council are set to meet with trust chiefs Alan Foster and Paul Garvin next Tuesday to discuss the latest delay in the Wynyard hospital plan.

The trust announced last month that the plans to build a £300m facility at Wynyard had been shelved until after the general election following a string of delays.

That has raised fears that having stripped many services out of the University Hospital of Hartlepool, the trust will now simply centralise everything at its other hospital in North Tees.

Coun Akers-Belcher, who will be joined by Coun Ray Martin-Wells, chairman of the council’s Audit and Governance Committee and its vice-chairman Coun Stephen Akers-Belcher at the meeting, said: “The number of people who have signed the Bring Them Back petition shows the strength of feeling there is in the town.

“People want a hospital which has services and is sustainable.

“A lot of people have spoken to me since the Wynyard announcement was made, and they are sceptical about the trust.

“Nobody wants to migrate all services to North Tees. The truth of the matter is the hospital at North Tees is not in as a good a state of repair as the one in Hartlepool.”

Coun Akers-Belcher has vowed to mention the Mail’s campaign at the meeting, and says he is looking forward to having his say.

He added: “We can’t not work with the trust because of fudning we receive from central government.

“But that doesn’t mean we can’t let them know our feelings. They have to listen to the people of Hartlepool, they can’t ignore it.

“Now is the time they have to accept they have to come up with a Plan B.

“They’ve never had a Plan B before, it never existed. Wynyard was always the only show in town.

“But now the rug has been pulled from under their feet on that one, so I want to know what the Plan B is now.”

• TO add your support to the campaign, sign the online petition or call into the Mail reception in Wesley Square, Hartlepool, to add your name to the list.

In the space of three days, more than 5,000 have signed the petition online, with over 200 other residents having come to the office to put pen to paper.

The petition will eventually be passed onto the hospital trust, NHS England and the Department of Health in a bid to bring about changes.