Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen pledges to bring health services back to Hartlepool hospital
Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen says he will bring back health services to Hartlepool – including the town's hospital – if he is re-elected in May.
Mr Houchen, who has already made pledges to return steel making to Teesside and introduce free parking across the region, said he has written to Northern Powerhouse minister Jake Berry to request the necessary powers to allow local decision makers to reintroduce services at the University Hospital of Hartlepool that meet the needs of local people.
He said: “Our region deserves first class health services and we must make sure that everyone can access them quickly and effectively.
“To do that, we must improve the quality and the type of health services across Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool.
“I can understand the anger and despair of local people in Hartlepool who have seen services stripped away from Hartlepool University Hospital over the last few years.
“There’s a sign at Victoria Park that says ‘Poolies are born not made’ and unfortunately because of short sighted decision making, next to no babies are born in Hartlepool anymore.
“As someone with strong links to the town I find this very sad.
“Those in London are too remote from our area to understand the local healthcare priorities across Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool.
“How can someone sat in Whitehall understand the health needs of someone in Hartlepool or Billingham?”
Hartlepool hospital has seen the removal of a number of services over the years including the closure of its A&E in 2011, its consultant led maternity services and IVF fertility treatment.
Mr Houchen said devolution would allow him, clinicians and experts to tailor budgets and priorities directly to the needs of the local population.
He added he will work to establish a leading state-of-the-art dementia care facility in Hartlepool that will help thousands of families affected by the disease, and that Hartlepool would become a UK leader in elective and orthopaedic care.
Another top priority, he said, would be tackling health inequalities including large differences between life expectancy within the region.
“With the devolution of health and social care we can address these issues and reintroduce the required services to make real improvements in peoples lives,” he said.