LETTER: Council must ‘up game’ to save Hartlepool’s hospital services

Hartlepool Civic Centre.
Hartlepool Civic Centre.

WHICH part of “we don’t want a hospital at Wynyard” and “we want our services in Holdforth Road returned to their star rating” is difficult to understand by the North Tees & Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust or central Government?

Many people who are truly concerned are now demanding more marches and petitions.

I politely ask them to consider the realities.

The last march was organised by a lovely retired nurse in a wheelchair who was pushed by her husband.

My only contribution was to speak at its final rallying point in Victoria Square, and I was pleased, and proud, to do so.

The turnout of people who actually marched (or were wheeled) was absolutely fantastic.

The order was perfect, the media coverage was comprehensive – in short, it was considered to be a success.

But the reality is that it had no effect whatsoever upon the trust, which simply went ahead on schedule and closed the University Hospital of Hartlepool’s A&E department seven days later.

I’m unable to forget the date of that, which I call the day of infamy because, at the mass meeting, I deliberately referred to my God being able to create the whole world in seven days.

Therefore nothing was impossible within the days left and the whole A&E closure proposal could be re-addressed.

If there was a will to do so.

Eventually Hartlepool Borough councillors responded by carrying unanimously a vote of no confidence in the trust.

Eventually that vote of no confidence was put into writing and delivered.

Nothing happened, nothing changed.

The untouchables of the trust simply carried on ticking boxes, consulting “for the record” and then doing exactly what they intended to do.

Sadly, the same untouchable attitude had already dismissed any positive effect of our 34,000-signature petition.

Our lovely campaigners, who toiled away relentlessly collecting the signatures, eventually stopped at what they considered to be a nice, round figure.

My wife, Elaine, maintained that there was no limit to the figure which could have been amassed because the support demonstrated was total.

Again, I’m conscious that I could offend the many fine people who collected the signatures and the equally fine people who signed.

But the reality is that it, too, had no effect whatsoever.

I will illustrate that sad truth by here relaying the fact that massive and repeated, indeed dogged, pressure was applied before the Prime Minister would even accept the petition itself.

I am confident that I’m not the only one who refers to those magnificent 34,000 voters at every appropriate opportunity. I’m confident that our marches were embarrassing to those in authority.

But the trust had (and still has) the required audacity, hide thickness and disregard for the public required to simply continue doing its very own thing.

This is not a game but, whatever it is, we must up it, because doing the same things again will have the same effect. None.

Shortly after the council’s vote of no confidence had been proven ineffective I put it before a full council meeting (from the public question route in chamber) that the council should withdraw all co-operation from the trust.

Without going into the full detail of the debate which followed, it was decided that such action would make the whole trust/council relationship inoperable.

I always thought that was the whole point of such action.

However, surely that was – and certainly is now – the route we must take to make this trust “touchable”.

I will do all of the same things again if that is what our campaigners want.

But I’m now certain that a dramatic and determined “upping of the game” by the council is the only way forward, and that means by withdrawing all co-operation, now.

Keith Fisher,

Formby Close,

Hartlepool.