Bosses of new North-East hospital group say Hartlepool is 'essential' to Tees Valley amid calls for services to return
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Earlier this year it was announced North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust and South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust would come together to form a single hospital group to strengthen the way they work collaboratively.
The move aims to improve recruitment and retention, community health and wellbeing and secure investment to rebuild and upgrade existing hospital facilities.
At the latest meeting of Hartlepool Borough Council audit and governance committee, trust bosses were quizzed over how the move will impact the town and its services.
Professor Derek Bell, joint chair for the trusts, said the offer provided at the University Hospital of Hartlepool is “probably more vital now than ever, especially in a post-covid world and with the pressures on the NHS”.
He added: “Hartlepool as a hospital and the services that surround it are actually vital, not just to Hartlepool, they are actually vital to how we provide services across the Tees Valley in general.
“Hartlepool becomes an essential part of the organisation such that you cannot ignore it, it would destabilise the rest of the sector.”
Ray Martin-Wells, from North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, added “meaningful consultation” will be held over any future service changes.
He said: “I see it as an opportunity to make sure that the mistakes of the past are not made again.
“I can guarantee that any future service changes, no matter how small they may be, will come to the relevant scrutiny panels.
“There will not be changes to try and save money, they will be changes to improve the service, improve delivery, that’s the key thing.”
Councillor Jonathan Brash, chair of the audit and governance committee, said important to Hartlepool residents will be whether the new model returns services to the town.
He said: “The changes being proposed to our NHS are complex but the measure of their success will be really simple.
“Do they return services to Hartlepool’s hospital and chief amongst those services are A&E and doctor-led maternity.”
Discussions on how the two trust organisations work together will now progress ahead of the group being fully “up and running in the first quarter of 2024/25”.