A COUNCILLOR and health campaigner fears controversial proposals to transfer critical care services from Hartlepool are a done deal after meetings were held with hospital staff.
Health bosses held a 12 week public consultation to gauge people’s views on the plans to centralise emergency medical and critical care services at the University Hospital of North Tees,in Stockton.
It would see the removal of all the remaining critical care services out of the University Hospital of Hartlepool, in Holdforth Road, with the loss of up to 135 beds.
Councillor Keith Fisher, who is chairman of the council’s audit and governance community, which covers health scrutiny, claims staff at Hartlepool hospital have been told the changes are happening.
But the hospital trust said no final decision has yet been made and the meetings are part of the normal procedure for such consultations.
The Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and North Tees and Hartlepool Foundation Trust are due to meet with the council to discuss the consultation next month.
Coun Fisher, who has repeatedly called for services to be reinstated at the Holdforth Road site, said: “I am very annoyed, particularly as I am due to chair a meeting within the next couple of weeks when they will tell us how the consultation has gone knowing they have already spoken to staff about which of the two hospitals they want to work in.
“It have always thought this consultation wasn’t real, now this is proof positive.”
The plans would cost £2.3m and affect 10,000 patients.
A spokesperson for North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust said: “We have been holding consultation meetings with staff to talk about the impact of the changes and to give staff an opportunity to talk about their working arrangements, transport and their personal circumstances so we can offer support.
“This is very similar to what happened during the public consultation where we gave people the opportunity to talk about their concerns.
“The public consultation had to come first but now that is finished it was important we started to talk to staff in detail about the practical elements of the changes, such as where people would be working, child care, transport and so on.”