Union bosses slam hospital trust

The University Hospital of Hartlepool
The University Hospital of Hartlepool
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Union bosses have slammed redundancy meetings at the University Hospital of Hartlepool fertility unit.

The RCN Northern region today criticised North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust for continuing to undertake one-to-one redundancy meetings with staff at the University Hospital of Hartlepool fertility unit, despite being ordered by the high court to halt the closure of the service.

Greg Canning, the RCN’s senior officer for Hartlepool, said: “By continuing to undertake one-to-one meetings between management and staff at the hospital, the trust is destabilising the unit. Staff will understandably feel that the trust management are going to try to close this unit regardless of the court order, and will start looking for jobs elsewhere.

“So the issue of understaffing will become a self-fulfilling prophesy. We believe the trust could have recruited a new embryologist if they had made a proper effort, but now the whole team is being undermined by pursuing one-to-one meetings. We’ve seen no financial evidence to support the reasons for this closure, and it’s a high quality service that should be enhanced, not cut. For the broader NHS, it’s death by a thousand cuts.”

Yesterday, the Mail revealed that a High Court judge has ordered the hospital trust to postpone the closure of a fertility unit in the town.

The judge has ordered North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust not to close licensed fertility services at the University Hospital of Hartlepool until a hearing takes place in the High Court on April 5.

Trust bosses announced in January they would no longer provide the treatment, including IVF, following a comprehensive review of the service provided at the town hospital’s assisted reproduction unit.

But, Hartlepool Borough Council sought an injunction to stop the closure at the end of March this year following a meeting of the authority’s audit and governance committee on February 26.

Hospital trust chief executive, Alan Foster, and chairman, Paul Garvin, did not turn up at the meeting to explain the reasons for the imminent closure and instead the trust was represented by the medical director and a legal representative.

The Trust says it has to cease services on safety grounds because it cannot recruit enough embryologists.

But, these claims have been questioned by a leading fertility expert, the town’s MP Iain Wright, the Royal College of Nursing and trade unions.