THE news that the University Hospital of Hartlepool is to close, with services located at either the University Hospital of North Tees or Wynyard, came as a great shock but similar closures are taking place all over the country because of the urgent need for Government spending to be reduced.
The Government’s budget deficit is expected to fall from £145bn a year in May 2010 to about £122bn a year by April 2012.
But an even bigger problem is the fact that total government debt is currently £1 trillion i.e. £1,000,000,000,000, and if public sector pension obligations are included, along with the debts which have to be paid off because the previous Government borrowed money to pay for projects financed by the Public Finance Initiative (PFI), then total government debt is well over £2 trillion, possibly as much as £3 trillion.
These huge debts simply must be reduced and all local authorities and government departments are having to make big cuts to their spending plans.
The North Tees & Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust has to reduce annual spending by £40m a year.
That can only be achieved by centralising hospital services at North Tees or, hopefully, at Wynyard if an acceptable financing arrangement can be agreed.
The chief executive of the trust has confirmed that centralising services at one location will achieve substantial savings and that fewer people will need treatment in hospital because of increased emphasis on preventing illness and early interventions when people do become ill.
He also confirmed that he is determined to ensure that there is no compromise in the quality of services or t waiting times.
However, many employees will lose their jobs.
That is unavoidable but every effort will be made to keep job losses to a minimum.
Losing our local hospital is a big blow and we can only hope that a suitable financing arrangement for the new Wynyard hospital can be negotiated.
That will be more convenient than having to travel to North Tees.