Union seeks urgent meeting with hospital bosses over Hartlepool fertility unit claims

The University Hospital of Hartlepool.
The University Hospital of Hartlepool.
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A union has called for urgent talks with hospital bosses over the future of members jobs at Hartlepool hospital’s fertility unit.

Unison says it is seeking clarification from the management of North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust.

The union is now seeking urgent clarification from the employer about what exactly is going on and why the uncertainty over the future of the service and our members’ jobs is continuing

Mike Hill, Unison

It comes after the Mail reported a Hartlepool councillor’s claims that potential bidders to run the Assisted Reproduction Unit had been hampered during the tender process.

Coun Ray Martin-Wells, chair of the Audit and Governance Scrutiny Committee, told its last meeting he had been contacted by a number of interested parties which he claimed had encountered difficulty in getting important information about the unit from health chiefs.

Unison was part of the campaign to save the unit from closure earlier this year.

Regional organiser Mike Hill said: “The deadline for tenders to bid to run the Assisted Reproduction Unit was November 16 and nothing substantial has been heard since.

“Unison is aware of at least three providers who may have expressed an interest, but we have not heard until now about any problems with the process.

“These are dark days again for the hard-working NHS staff who run the unit who had to put up with so much pressure in the fight to save the ARU in the first place.

“The union is now seeking urgent clarification from the employer about what exactly is going on and why the uncertainty over the future of the service and our members’ jobs is continuing.”

Coun Martin-Wells wrote to the Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees Clinical Commissioning Group, which funds the service, and the hospital trust expressing his concerns.

He said at the last meeting of the Audit and Governance Committee: “I have been contacted by a number of organisations who were frustrated at their attempts to obtain information from both the trust and CCG in order that they could put a formal tender document together.”

A CCG spokesman said it has been working very closely with the Trust to ensure a fair and robust procurement process for the Assisted Reproduction Unit.

They added: “We acknowledge the concerns raised by Coun Wells and have offered assurance that all potential providers have been treated fairly and in accordance with the Public Contract Regulations 2015.”

Hartlepool council took the hospital trust to the High Court to prevent the axing ending of licensed fertility treatments, including IVF, from the unit.

It led to a consultation by the CCG and in July announced it would look for an alternative provider.