Unanimous vote of no confidence against hospital bosses over A&E closure

The meeting underway at Hartlepool College of Further Education
The meeting underway at Hartlepool College of Further Education
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COUNCILLORS have unanimously backed a motion of no confidence against hospital trust bosses.

Members from all parties joined forces to condemn Alan Foster, chief executive of North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, chairman Paul Garvin and the rest of the board following the closure of the A&E department at the town’s hospital.

Civic chiefs will write to Health Secretary Andrew Lansley after agreeing to the motion that condemned a “total failure” to effectively consult and communicate with residents about health changes.

Town Mayor Stuart Drummond supported the motion, which came after more then 200 people had the chance to quiz bosses from NHS Hartlepool at a public meeting at Hartlepool College of Further Education.

It came after the closure of the A&E department at the University Hospital of Hartlepool that has led to patients instead being treated at One Life Hartlepool, in Park Road, or the University Hospital of North Tees, in Stockton.

Mr Foster and Mr Garvin did not attend the meeting.

They had previously said they would not attend a public meeting to answer questions because it would be like “being in a modern-day version of the stocks”.

Liberal Democrat councillor Edna Wright had proposed a motion of no confidence in the whole trust. But there were fears it could look like an attack on clinicians and medical staff.

Instead an alternative motion was put by Labour councillor Ged Hall, which stated the council is concerned about the constant “removal, downgrading and reductions” in clinician-led services at the hospital.

The motion said: “Following the refusal of the chairman Paul Garvin to allow staff from the trust to meet with residents to discuss these concerns and hopefully allay them.

“We the elected members of Hartlepool Borough Council do wish to make public that whilst we have every confidence in the clinicians and medical staff, we no longer have confidence in the decision making of the chief executive Alan Foster, chairman Paul Garvin and the board of North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust with regard to the removal or reduction of services from Hartlepool.

“We condemn their total failure to effectively consult and communicate with this council and town residents.”

Speaking afterwards, chairman of the council, Coun Carl Richardson said: “The clear message is that councillors are not confident in the board of the trust.”

Coun Richardson, who will write to Mr Lansley, said: “Hopefully they will listen.

“I would like to see an investment in our hospital and the services.”

Coun Wright added: “I think every resident has been patient long enough and have been badly treated and let down by the trust regarding our hospital services and facilities.”

During the extraordinary meeting held after the public question and answer session, councillors quizzed Steve Wallace, chairman of NHS Hartlepool, and interim chief executive Stephen Childs about the lack of communication, staffing concerns, and whether or not they could guarantee to keep the hospital “open, sustainable and viable”.

Mr Childs said he could guarantee the “best quality care”, but added it would be “irresponsible to say anything about commissioning buildings and beds and not services”.

After the meeting, Keith Fisher, chairman of the Save Our Hospital group, said: “We have made some progress, but I was disappointed that the motion had to be amended.”