What Hartlepool's MP thinks of plans to boost town maternity services and births
Hartlepool’s MP has given a cautious welcome to intentions by council and health bosses to make maternity services in the town ‘fully operational’ soon.
Mike Hill responded to assurances given by hospital chiefs to the leader of Hartlepool Borough Council following a midwives recruitment drive which aims to pave the way for babies to be delivered again from the University Hospital of Hartlepool.
Council leader Shane Moore, who is also chair of the council’s Health and Wellbeing Board, has been told the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust is on course to see a fully operational maternity hub with a full complement of midwives by the autumn.
Coun Moore sought a meeting with the trust after it emerged women were no longer able to give birth at the midwife-led unit in Holdforth Road.
Mr Hill said of the development: “I welcome the fact that the leader has had what he considers to be a positive meeting with Trust officials, and I’m glad that he raised these matters following a recent meeting I had with him.
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“It’s great to hear that he has been reassured that the Trust intends to make the hub fully operational by the autumn and to recruit more midwives, but it’s clearly obvious from the statement that the Trust didn’t promise that women will be able to give birth at the unit anytime soon and that that remains an aspiration of the Council more than anything.
“Significantly, the Trust have failed to give any reassurance that consultants will be brought in to cover the unit; one of the major reasons why births haven’t been happening there in the first case and people have been literally passported to North Tees [hospital] on a regular basis, nor have they explained why they suddenly declared at one point that the unit was unviable because less than 250 babies had been born there last year.
“I am hopeful that the Trust’s intentions are genuine and fully share the expectations and hopes of the Leader that we are back on a positive track to restore full maternity services at the University Hospital of Hartlepool and guarantee the right of Hartlepudlians to be born and register as being born in their own town, but In light of recent admissions by the Trust I remain to be convinced, and so too will the general public.”
Coun Moore said the Trust is fully supportive of a council proposal to create a maternity hub in Hartlepool following an in-depth investigation by the authority’s Audit and Governance Committee of services currently available and what could be improved.
A trust spokesman told the Mail last week: “Following a recent successful recruitment centre, we will be welcoming a new group of midwives into the organisation in the autumn which will enable the Trust to plan and implement a new model, to support being able to provide a delivery service at the Hartlepool site.”