HEALTH chiefs have denied that clinical wards will be closing at the University Hospital of Hartlepool this summer ahead of an independent review of services.
Rumours had been circulating on social media sites that wards at the Holdforth Road site would be closing in August but officials at the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, which runs hospitals in Hartlepool and Stockton, say that is not the case.
It comes as the independent National Clinical Advisory Team is set to review services and meet with doctors, nursers and patient representatives after doctors said services will need to change in order to meet rising national standards.
They say it could have an impact on bed numbers at both hospital sites but recommendations won’t be known until after the review on January 29.
Officials from North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust met with Hartlepool Borough Council’s health scrutiny forum last week to discuss service transformation, which could see about half of outpatient appointments taking place in the community by the time the hospital opens in 2017.
Health chiefs say the strategic aim of the Momentum: Pathways to Healthcare programme is to deliver the “best quality” care in first-rate facilities as close to people’s homes as possible by well -trained professionals using the latest state-of-the-art equipment.
A key part is the new £300m hospital at Wynyard.
Speaking at the meeting, Julie Gillon, chief operating officer and deputy chief executive at the trust, said services cannot remain static in the run up to the new hospital adding: “There is a need to maintain and improve clinical services in line with professional standards and national guidance.”
NCAT is reviewing services before reporting back in mid-March and then a more in-depth consultation process will begin in April.
A Trust spokeswoman added: “As reported in last week’s Mail, following the Hartlepool health scrutiny committee, services are under review because our doctors have said services will need to change if they are to meet the continually rising standards set down by the royal colleges and other organisations.
“Our commissioner and ourselves are considering ways to improve outcomes by embracing new standards and this could well have an impact on bed numbers on both hospital sites.
“Our chief operating officer Julie Gillon reported to the Hartlepool health scrutiny committee that the commissioners have asked the independent National Clinical Advisory Team (NACT) to meet our doctors and nurses, as well as representatives of the OSC and patient representative groups to add an independent view on how services should look for the future.
“That visit will take place on January 29.
“The commissioners and ourselves will consider the recommendations of the report.
“Only after that has taken place will we engage and consult the public and other interested parties about any changes.”