Union’s anger over closure of Hartlepool hospital’s assisted reproduction unit

The University Hospital of Hartlepool.
The University Hospital of Hartlepool.

Union bosses have condemned new plans to axe Hartlepool’s successful IVF service.

The town could lose its licensed fertility provision after health chiefs failed to get an appropriate bidder to run th service.

At a time when there is a great deal of uncertainty within the NHS and when we should be supporting the gradual return of services to the hospital, the loss of this five star service does not instil confidence.

Mike Hill

North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust said it could no longer provide a safe and clinically effective service so Hartlepool and Stockton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) agreed to look for a new provider after the council won a High Court ruling.

Now health union Unison has criticised the failure to find a new provider.

Regional organiser Mike Hill said: “Unison is concerned that the loss of licensed IVF treatment, in what only can considered to be questionable circumstances, is simply a delivery by the CCG of the original agenda set by North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust.

“If this is the case, then, like the people of Hartlepool and the communities they serve, our members will feel badly let down by an outcome that flies in the face of the will of the people.

“Our members in the Assisted Reproduction Unit have worked tirelessly and under a great deal of pressure to keep the service going and are stunned that the CCG appears to have fallen at the final hurdle, especially given the known expressions of interest from experienced providers, including we understand, from a specialist NHS organisation.

“Whatever the merits of the case may be for not awarding the contract for licensed treatment at a unit which has a national reputation for delivering IVF treatment, it is only right to question why and how the procurement process failed to attract an appropriate provider.

“At a time when there is a great deal of uncertainty within the NHS and when we should be supporting the gradual return of services to the hospital, the loss of this five star service does not instil confidence.”

A CCG spokesman said: “The priority of the CCGs is to ensure patients can continue to have as much of their care delivered locally at the Hartlepool site and on this basis we are working closely with existing NHS commissioned providers in the region to deliver unlicensed services at the Hartlepool site.

“This will mean patients have an increased choice of providers Any patient who require licensed fertility services (e.g. IVF, ICSI) will then be offered this at the base site of their chosen provider.

“Our priority is to ensure any service we commission is safe, clinically effective and of the highest quality.”