Support for re-opening A&E grows

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COUNTY councillors have backed a resolution that condemns health chiefs over the decision to close the University Hospital’s accident and emergency department.

As previously reported by the Mail, Councillor Rob Crute, Blackhall representative on Durham County Council, drafted the resolution condemning bosses at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust blasting the move which saw the A&E department at the Holdforth Road site close on August 2.

The resolution was backed by Blackhall Labour Party and was due to be endorsed by the Easington Constituency Labour Party.

But the meeting has been delayed and the constituency party will hear the issue when it meets next month.

In the meantime, Coun Crute has slightly amended the proposal, which says the trust “failed to formally consult either the Health Overview Scrutiny Committee at Durham County Council or the communities of east Durham” over the closure.

The resolution, proposed by Coun Crute and seconded by Horden councillor Paul Stradling, adds: “In noting that an Independent Review Group was established to scrutinise the trust’s proposal this Labour Group feels that community representation from east Durham ought to have been ensured on the group as was afforded to the Health Scrutiny Forum at Hartlepool Borough Council.

“We consider that consulting merely a proportion of the communities affected is irrational and unfair.”

The Labour Group says the process and outcome of the review was “distorted, invalid and ultimately detrimental to the health interests of the people of east Durham” and calls for the trust to reverse its decision to close the unit.

Coun Crute said the resolution was “accepted enthusiastically and unanimously, with many members from across the county voicing their support for the campaign to return A&E services to the University Hospital of Hartlepool when it was presented to the Labour Group at Durham County Council on Monday.

He added: “It is now clear that a head of steam is building to support the return of our A&E department to Holdforth Road.

“Hartlepool Borough Council passed a motion of no confidence in the trust, the health scrutiny committee at Durham County Council demonstrated its concerns over the process by writing to the trust and on behalf of the Blackhall Labour Party I drafted the resolution which has now been supported unanimously by the Labour Group at Durham County Council.”

The trust said the people of County Durham were included in the initial momentum: pathways to healthcare programme consultation and that the health overview and scrutiny committee had been kept fully informed and involved throughout the process.