Heartbreak will follow

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After reading Baby Unit Bombshell (Mail, October 5) I feel it is another nail in the coffin for the future of health services in Hartlepool.

It appears that NHS England, in its wisdom and plans for neonatal care provision in the North East, is recommending that the Great North Children’s Hospital in Newcastle, Sunderland Royal Hospital and James Cook University Hospital, in Middlesbrough, all continue as neonatal intensive care units.

However the University Hospital of Hartlepool would be downgraded to provide just special care.

This is an absolute tragic and appalling state of affairs.

Not only will this, in my view, contribute to neonatal yearly death rate figures within North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, it will also remove another vital service for the people of Hartlepool.

It will mean that mothers who are already worried and anxious over their babies’ health or whether or not their baby will live or die, will have to endure a 35-mile round trip to James Cook.

Considering the powers-that-be have already considered North Tees to be “fit for purpose”, it seems ironical and hypocritical to be downgrading the baby unit rather than improving it and upgrading it.

Why should North Tees be singled out to be downgraded, and not one of the other proposed hospitals?

As our MP, Iain Wright, stated: “It seems centralisation is pushing services even further away from Hartlepool.”

We have already lost our vital A&E department and our cardiac catheter laboratory, meaning that heart attack patients or patients with a cardiac condition that requires urgent medical intervention, have their lives put at risk by depending on an already overstretched ambulance paramedic crew to keep them alive on the 14-mile journey from Hartlepool to North Tees.

So why should we now lose neonatal intensive care at North Tees by downgrading it to just provide “special care” and put precious new-born lives at risk?

I share the concerns of the Hartlepool Borough councillors.

I can only see misery and heartbreak if this happens.

G Hare,

Kingsley Avenue,

Hartlepool.